Rival rallies in Cairo preceded by violence

Thousands of opponents and supporters of the Islamist President staged rival rallies in Cairo today, four days before a nationwide referendum on a contentious draft constitution.

The demonstrations got under way just hours after masked assailants set upon opposition protesters staging a sit-in at Tahrir Square, firing birdshot and swinging knives and sticks, according to security officials. At least 11 protesters were wounded in the pre-dawn attack.