CAIRO, (Reuters) – Police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse Egyptian protesters in Cairo in the early hours today after a long day of unprecedented protests calling for President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30 year rule.
Yesterday, two protesters and one policeman were killed in clashes and protests that erupted in several Egyp-tian cities, where demonstrators angry at poverty and repression have been inspired by this month’s downfall of the leader of Tunisia.
“Down, Down Hosni Mubarak,” protesters chanted after fleeing from the central Tahrir square. Some threw stones at the police, who charged them with batons to prevent the protesters returning to the square after it was cleared by using teargas.
“Bullies,” fleeing protesters shouted. Others cried: “You are not men”. Police sprayed a water cannon on protesters and moved in rows into the square.
Sporadic clashes took place into early today, but by the pre-dawn hours protesters appeared to have been dispersed. Police were milling about in Tahrir square, while street sweepers cleared away rocks and litter.
“Down with Mubarak” was still scrawled on a wall. Police trucks were lined up along a side street.
Some protesters had said they would try to regroup during the day today. Security forces said protesters would not be permitted to reassemble. Twitter, the Internet messaging service that has been one of the main methods used by demonstrators to organise, said it had been blocked in Egypt. In a message, the company wrote: “We believe that the open exchange of info & views benefits societies & helps govts better connect w/ their people.”
Thousands of demonstrators had earlier said they planned to stay out in Tahrir square until the government fell. Some protesters and police shared food and chatted last evening after a day of protests that closed many Cairo roads to traffic.
Demonstrators tore up pictures of the president and his son, Gamal, who many Egyptians say is being groomed for office. Both Gamal and his father deny any such plan.
The United States, a close ally of Egypt and major aid donor, called for restraint from all sides to avoid violence.
‘DAY OF WRATH’
“Tomorrow, don’t go to work. Don’t go to college. We will all go down to the streets and stand hand in hand for you our Egypt. We will be millions,” wrote one activist on a group on Facebook, which has been a key tool mobilising demonstrators.
Yesterday was a national holiday and ministries were closed. A government source said ministers had been told to ensure staff returned to work on Wednesday and did not join protests.