At least 20 people have been killed and 50 wounded in clashes between protesters and assailants near the Defense Ministry premises in Cairo early Wednesday, medical sources and security services officials said.
Officials from the Ministry of Health failed to confirm this death toll as the bodies were not transported to the hospital. However, they said "several dozens were injured, some seriously," Al-Arabiya news reported.
Witnesses said the attackers stormed the protest near the Defense Ministry at dawn using rocks, clubs, and Molotov cocktails, according to BBC.
According to state television, clashes continued into midmorning. Among the protesters are supporters of Salafist leader Hazem Abu Ismail, who camped in the area since Saturday, after their leader's exclusion by the electoral commission from the presidential race.
The first round of the presidential election is scheduled for May 23-24, and the interim military leadership has promised to hand power to an elected civilian president by the end of June.
Meanwhile, The Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi and Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh decided to temporarily suspend their campaigns for 48 hours "in solidarity with the protesters," AFP news reported.
The ruling Justice and Freedom Party announced it was boycotting a meeting scheduled Wednesday between Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the junta and political parties, because of the "bloody events"outside Defense Ministry.
Several parties and movements have called for demonstrations in this area in Cairo to protest against the violence that left 20 dead and dozens injured.
Elsewhere, An Egyptian policeman was killed and two of his colleagues injured on Wednesday in an armed attack on their tank in the northern Sinai city Rafah, officials said.
Egyptian army said in a statement that unidentified assailants ambushed the military vehicle killing Mahmoud Sabri, from the central security forces, and injuring Mohammad Ahmad and Mustafa Ahamd, both were transferred to hospital in near El-Arish in a serious condition.