Violence has swept the final round Egyptian parliamentary elections, as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to keep Muslim Brotherhood voters from reaching polling stations.
Seven men and a 14-year-old boy were shot and killed on Wednesday.
The last day of the parliamentary vote, which stretched over a month and was seen as a test of President Hosni Mubarak's pledge to open the country's autocratic political system, was the most violent.
Counting Wednesday's deaths, 10 people were killed during the three rounds of balloting, which began on 9 November.
Hundreds have been wounded and more than 1000 arrested, mainly supporters of the fundamentalist Brotherhood, which, while banned, has fielded candidates as independents.
Early official results showed the Brotherhood capturing at least 11 more seats, raising its surprise showing to at least 87 at the end of the final round. It lost in three constituencies where ballots had been counted.
The ruling National Democratic Party gained 30 seats, and independents won 20, according to the early results, Aljazeera learned.
Police blocked access to several
In the northern Sinai town of El-Arish, an AP reporter said police blocked Brotherhood voters from polling places. They fought back with a hail of stones and Molotov cocktails, cornering police in the narrow streets.
When reinforcements failed to control the crowd, police fled. Angry voters rioted and destroyed the city headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.
Government supporters in Zagazig, a Nile Delta city 80km (50 miles) northeast of Cairo, were brought to polling stations in an armored police vehicle. They emerged armed with machetes and pushed back voters who were trying to break through police lines to get into polling stations.
The 14-year-old, Mohammed Karam el-Taher, was killed when police fired at the demonstrators in the Qattawiya, a Nile Delta village in el-Sharqiya province and not far from Zagazig. Another demonstrator in the village, Mohammed Ahmed Mahdi, 22, died of gunshot wounds to the head.
Both deaths were reported by a Muslim Brotherhood member and a police official, who refused to be identified by name for fear of reprisal.
Shaaban Abdu Ahmed Abu Arbaa and Al-Said Hassan el-Dighidi were shot and killed in the northern town of Damietta, where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds outside polling stations, said Dr. Mohammed Balboula of Damietta Public Hospital.
Magdi Mohammed Hassan el-Bahrawi and Tamer Kheder el-Qammash died of gunshot wounds in the Matariya hospital in Dakahliya province, also in the Nile Delta, according to a doctor and a local police official, who refused use of their names because they were not authorised to speak to reporters.
Police blocked off a voting station
in the village of Zagazig (file)
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights reported two more deaths. The independent body said Atef Mohammed Ahmed was killed in Damietta and Mustafa Abdel-Salam died of gunshot wounds in el-Sharqiya province. Police confirmed the deaths.
Ministry accuses Brotherhood
The Interior Ministry has confirmed the deaths, but accused the Brotherhood of instigating riots in Damietta and elsewhere.
Early on Wednesday, ministry spokesman Ibrahim Hammad issued a statement that said "the election process is going normally," apart from 10 polling stations where he accused Brotherhood "thugs" of causing disturbances.
"The police are protecting the judges (who supervise polling stations) and helping the voters to reach the ballot box," Hammad said.
But Associated Press reporters in Zagazig and Sohag, 390km (240 miles) south of the capital, saw security forces blocking voters from reaching the polls and attacking voters.
AP Photographer Amr Nabil was wounded in Zagazig and hospitalised in Cairo.
"The election process is going normally"
Interior Ministry spokesman
In Sohag, up to 400 voters waited outside the Mohammed Farid School polling station but were blocked from entering by lines of police.
"They say the school is closed. They want to allow only NDP supporters to vote here. I'm very upset. This injustice must stop," greengrocer Abdel Moneim, 55, said.
Judge Ahmed Mecci, a senior member of the pro-reform Judges' Club, said police were blocking access to at least 20 polling stations in Zagazig.