Violent clashes in Cairo leave 11 dead

11 people have been killed in Cairo after protesters were attacked outside Egypt's defence ministry in the capital's Abbasiya district on 2 May.

In addition to the fatalities, 150 people were injured in the clashes which come just three weeks before the first round of presidential elections scheduled to take place on 23 and 24 May. The interim government, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said it would consider transferring power to an elected president if the vote is decided in the first round.

The fact that the attackers were unidentified and the security forces waited up to six hours to intervene has led to speculation in Cairo that the attack may have received some form of backing from the military leaders.

Many of the demonstrators attacked were supporters of the recently-disqualified Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Abu Ismail, who was barred from standing in the election as his mother held dual Egyptian-US nationality.

Two of the front-runners in the presidential election - Mohammed Mursi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and independent Islamist Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh - have suspended campaigning in protest over the authorities' handling of the situation. Two leftist candidates, Khaled Ali and Hamdeen Sabbahi, have also stalled their election campaigns.

Currently the presidential race is centred around Mursi, Aboul Fotouh and Amr Moussa, the former head of the Arab League.