Egyptian security forces have moved in to stop violent clashes in Cairo, but they are being accused of doing too little too late.
At least 11 people were reportedly killed when fighting broke out, involving Islamist protesters and what are described as armed “thugs.”
“The military has now turned up, after we clashed with the thugs, and made them run away,” one demonstrator said.
Many of the protesters involved were supporters of an ultraconservative Islamist who was barred from running in this month’s presidential elections.
Demonstrators have been camped out since the weekend, calling for an end to military rule.
Several presidential candidates have suspended campaign events because of the military’s alleged failure to stop Wednesday’s bloodshed.
Meanwhile, political party leaders, who have met with generals, say the military might hand over to civilian rule earlier than planned – in the unlikely event that the upcoming election produces an outright winner.
The army has pledged to give power to an elected president by 1 July.