Egypt cabinet quits amid protests


Egyptian soldiers sit atop armoured vehicles in Tahrir Square, central Cairo (AP)

Hundreds of anti-government protesters have returned to the battered streets of central Cairo, shouting for Hosni Mubarak to step down and attacking police even as the cabinet resigned on the orders of the Egyptian president.

The sight of protesters pouring into Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and clashing with police for a fifth day indicated Mr Mubarak’s pledges of reform and the dismissal of the government had done little to cool the anger over crushing poverty, unemployment and corruption.

In a nationally televised speech, Mr Mubarak refused to meet the protesters’ ultimate demand – for him to step down.

Over five days of protests – the largest Egypt has experienced in decades – crowds have overwhelmed police forces in Cairo and other cities around the nation with their numbers and in attacks with rocks and firebombs.

A week of unrest has killed at least 25 protesters and 10 policemen, security officials said.

They said the death toll was likely to significantly rise as more reports come in from hospitals and mortuaries around the country.

They also said that at least 750 policemen and 1,500 protesters have been wounded in clashes.

Overnight, the government called in military forces and the army has replaced police in guarding government buildings and other key areas around the capital.

Several tanks were parked in the vast Tahrir Square, but soldiers did not intervene in the latest protest there. Protesters hurling stones attacked riot police trying to enter the square, and officers responded with a barrage of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Some protesters were wearing T-shirts with “Down with Mubarak” emblazoned on their fronts. Others chanted: “The people want to topple the regime.”

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