* Opposition party headquarters attacked
* Vote counting under way after polls close
* Opposition say aspirations of all Egyptians not met
* Parliamentary election to follow if constitution passed
By Tamim Elyan and Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO, Dec 16 Islamists attacked the offices of
an Egyptian opposition party newspaper on Saturday, security
sources said, as people voted on a new constitution intended to
pull the country out of a growing political crisis.
The newspaper of the Wafd party in Cairo was targeted with
petrol bombs and birdshot, the sources said, in the latest of a
series of violent incidents surrounding a divisive referendum
designed to pave the way to national elections next year.
The attack came as officials began counting votes after
polling stations closed at 11 p.m. (2100 GMT).
Official results will not come until after a second round of
voting in remaining areas of the country next Saturday, but
conflicting claims were already emerging from the rival camps.
A spokesman for the opposition National Salvation Front said
it had indications that 60-65 percent of voters in Cairo and
other cities had rejected the new constitution, while President
Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood allies said that after 1
million votes had been counted, 72.5 percent were in favour.
Mostafa Shafik, managing editor at Wafd's newspaper, which
is located next to the party headquarters, said his offices had
"The attackers used Molotov cocktails to enter, which left
minor areas burned," he said.
A Reuters photographer saw a dozen or so cars damaged inside
the Wafd headquarters' grounds, their windows broken. Glass was
also broken in the headquarters, but he saw no immediate signs
of fire damage. Two people appeared to have been injured.
Wafd blamed followers of Hazem Abu Ismail, a Salafist
preacher, for the attack, but he used his Facebook page to deny
Violence in Cairo and other cities has marred the run-up to
the referendum. Several party buildings belonging to the Muslim
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party have been burned in
Rival factions armed with clubs, knives and swords fought in
the streets of Alexandria on Friday. Opposition supporters
trapped a Muslim preacher inside his mosque after he backed a
"yes" vote in favour of the constitution.
President Mursi provoked angry demonstrations when he issued
a decree last month expanding his powers and then fast-tracked
the draft constitution through an assembly dominated by his
Muslim Brotherhood group and its allies. At least eight people
were killed in clashes last week outside the presidential
His liberal, secular and Christian opponents say the
constitution is too Islamist and tramples on minority rights.
Mursi's supporters say the charter is needed if progress is to
be made towards democracy nearly two years after the fall of
military-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak.
"The sheikhs (preachers) told us to say 'yes' and I have
read the constitution and I liked it," said 53-year-old Adel
Imam as he queued to vote in Cairo on Saturday. "The country
will move on."
Turnout was high enough for voting to be extended by four
hours in Cairo and some other cities.
In order to pass, the constitution must be approved by more
than 50 percent of voters who cast ballots. A little more than
half of Egypt's electorate of 51 million are eligible to vote in
the first round in Cairo and other cities.
Rights groups reported some abuses, such as polling stations
opening late, officials telling people to vote "yes", bribery
But Gamal Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights
Information, which is monitoring the vote, said nothing reported
so far was serious enough to invalidate the referendum.
Christians, making up about 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million
people and who have long complained of discrimination, were
among those waiting at a polling station in Alexandria to oppose
the basic law. They fear Islamists, long repressed by Mubarak,
will restrict social and other freedoms.
"I voted 'no' to the constitution out of patriotic duty,"
said Michael Nour, a 45-year-old Christian teacher in
Alexandria. "The constitution does not represent all Egyptians."
Howaida Abdel Azeem, a post office employee, said: "I said
'yes' because I want the destruction the country is living
through to be over and the crisis to pass."
Islamists are counting on their disciplined ranks of
supporters and the many Egyptians who may fall into line in the
hope of ending turmoil that has hammered the economy and sent
Egypt's pound to eight-year lows against the dollar.
Mursi was among the early voters after polls opened at 8
a.m. (0600 GMT). He was shown on television casting his ballot
shielded by a screen and then dipping his finger in ink - a
measure to prevent people voting twice.
The second round will be held in other regions on Dec. 22
because there are not enough judges willing to monitor all
polling stations after some said they would boycott the vote.
Egyptians are being asked to accept or reject a constitution
that must be in place before a parliamentary election can be
held next year to replace an Islamist-led parliament dissolved
in June. Many hope this will lead Egypt towards stability.
If the constitution is voted down, a new assembly will have
to be formed to draft a revised version, a process that could
take up to nine months.
The army has deployed about 120,000 troops and 6,000 tanks
and armoured vehicles to protect polling stations and other
government buildings. While the military backed Mubarak and his
predecessors, it has not intervened in the present crisis.