Thursday, November 6, 2008

Egyptian Opposition Party HQ Burnt Down by Pro-Mubarak Elements

AFP: Clashes erupt at Egypt dissident's party headquarters

Thursday November 6, 2008

Several people were injured Thursday in clashes between rival factions of Egypt's opposition Ghad party, including one headed by renowned political dissident Ayman Nur, following a leadership dispute.

A security official said seven people were lightly hurt as the rival groups threw stones and bottles at each other at the downtown Cairo headquarters of the party, whose name means Tomorrow in English.

Factions loyal to Nur, who was ejected from the party in 2007 following a government ruling, and the party's leader designate Mussa Mustapha, "clashed violently ... using inflammable bottles and stones," the official told AFP.

Firemen were trying to extinguish a fire which subsequently broke out in the office's entrance, the official said.

"They've set fire to the headquarters, they attacked us with tear gas," Nur's wife Gamila Ismail told AFP by telephone. "We're trapped on the upper floor."

An AFP correspondent said that around 150 members of the security forces and several fire engines rushed to the scene, where there were minor scuffles with party supporters on the street.

Five people were arrested, Ghad member Heba Wagih told AFP, and several hospitalised.

The fire was brought under control and much of the building evacuated. Scorch marks could be seen above several windows.

Nur mounted an unprecedented challenge against veteran President Hosni Mubarak during the 2005 presidential election before being jailed on forgery charges many see as trumped up.

Nur, a 44-year-old lawyer who led his Ghad party during Egypt's first ever presidential elections in September 2005, was put behind bars three months later for fraud, a charge widely seen as politically motivated.

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