CAIRO: Egypt's military rulers imposed an overnight curfew around the defence ministry Friday after two people were killed, nearly 300 injured and 170 arrested in fierce clashes between troops and protesters.
The clashes erupted just three weeks ahead of Egypt's first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak last year.
Officials at Al-Zahra University hospital said they received two people who died in the skirmishes outside the ministry. A frontline medic group said they died of gunshot wounds.
The health ministry reported one death and said he was a conscript soldier.
At least 296 people were also hurt in the clashes, the health ministry said in a statement, including 131 treated in hospital.
"A curfew has been imposed in the Abbassiya square, around the defence ministry and the surrounding streets," said General Mukhtar al-Mulla, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), in a television address.
The curfew will be in place from 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) until 7:00 am (0500 GMT) on Saturday morning, Mulla said, warning that the armed forces will "decisively confront" any attempt to violate the curfew.
"All legal measures will be taken against those involved in the Abbasiya events, or those inciting them," Mulla said.
The army arrested 170 people outside the defence ministry, military prosecution sources said, adding that they would order the detention of people accused of inciting the violence including some "big names."
Earlier on Friday, military police charged the protesters, chasing them down side streets near the ministry on foot and in military vehicles, firing birdshot and assault rifles into the air amid chaotic scenes.
The clashes began when some protesters threw rocks at the military police, prompting troops to respond with water cannon and later tear gas. (AFP)