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Bloody clashes erupt in Tahrir Square as Egyptian tension mounts

Bloody clashes between protesters and anti-riot police that raged overnight in Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted in new scuffles on Wednesday amid mounting frustration with Egypt's military rulers over the pace of reform.

The Egyptian Health Ministry said there were 1,036 injured in the clashes. Those included 120 who were hospitalized and most of whom were later released.

By Wednesday evening calm had been restored in central Cairo as protesters made their way to Tahrir Square—the epicenter of protests that toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak—in response to calls for an open-ended sit-in to push for reforms.

Dozens were arrested in connection with the clashes, including an American and a Briton, state media reported.

Hours after bloody overnight clashes, hundreds of angry protesters gathered in front of the Egyptian Interior Ministry headquarters in central Cairo, burning tires and pelting police with stones, a security official said.

Witnesses said the overnight disturbances were some of the most violent in months in the square, which was the focal point of protests that forced Mubarak from power in February.

Police fired tear gas and protesters threw stones, amid scenes reminiscent of demonstrations during the uprising.

The April 6 Movement said a protest to push for democratic reforms that was scheduled for July 8 "will begin today and a sit-in will carry on until there are clear signs that the demands are met."

The interior ministry blamed families of victims killed in the uprising saying some of them stormed a theatre where a memorial service was being held for those who died, which led to clashes with security.

But activists said police beat the families who had been barred from joining the service prompting activists back to the streets.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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