Unprecedented protests in Egypt against Mubarak

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.

Hosni Mubarak

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.

“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.

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