10 protesters hurt ahead of rallies

International

Egypt headed for another round of slugfest between largely secular opposition groups and Islamists backing President Mohammed Mursi, as at least 10 people were injured Tuesday when gunmen fired at protesters at Tahrir Square here ahead of massive rival rallies.

On the day which many people believe will be decisive in the current political crisis in Egypt, at least 10 protesters were injured in an armed attack at Tahrir Square. Unknown attackers fired shots at protesters in the square.

Nine people suffered injuries to their arms and legs, while one protester suffered a head injury, a Health Ministry official said.

The attack caused a wave of chaos in the square. Later, hundreds of Egyptian protesters breached a concrete and metal barricade outside the presidential palace and forced back the soldiers manning it.

The protesters pulled apart a high metal gate bar by bar and toppled concrete blocks with chains. Six tanks were stationed close to the walled compound. Security across the capital was tightened and police deployed anti-riot vehicles in central Cairo Tuesday ahead of a December 15 referendum on a new Islamist constitution.

Morsi Tuesday amended a law so that voters cannot cast their ballots outside their electoral districts, as they had in the past. The purpose of limiting voting to one's own district avoids "concerns about fairness of the electoral process," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the head of Egypt's key association of judges said 90 per cent of its members have voted not to oversee Saturday's nationwide referendum on the country's contentious draft constitution.

Ahmed el-Zind, chairman of the Judges' Club, announced the decision on Tuesday.

The move is unlikely to stop the referendum from taking place on Saturday, but it casts further doubt on the legitimacy of the constitutional drafting process.

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