The Straits Times
Published on Dec 15, 2012

Clashes in Egypt on eve of divisive referendum


CAIRO (AFP) - Stone-throwing clashes broke out on Friday in the Egyptian city of Alexandria between Islamists and opposition protesters, on the eve of a highly charged referendum on a new constitution, witnesses and state media said.

Fifteen people were wounded, according to medics, and several cars set on fire in the violence in the Mediterranean city, Egypt's second largest. State television showed at least one protester brandishing a sword.

Riot police quickly moved to separate the protesters, who clashed after a cleric urged worshippers to vote yes for the constitution. Hundreds of protesters kept up a siege of the mosque in which the cleric took refuge.

Tensions are high over the staggered referendum, which is being held on this and the following Saturday, after weeks of protests and violence between rival camps in Cairo that killed eight people and injured hundreds last week. Further rallies by both sides were taking place in Cairo on Friday.