Almost 300 people were also hurt in the clashes, which took place three weeks ahead of presidential elections, according to the official MENA news agency. The Egyptian army also arrested 170 people.

On the day Egypt’s ousted leader Hosni Mubarak turned 84, hardline Islamists were in the forefront of street fighting with the troops for the first time, a shift for groups that previously had largely stayed out of direct confrontation with the ruling military.

Troops fired water cannon, tear gas and hurled stones at protesters to keep them from advancing.

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