Egyptian protesters defy curfew

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An Egyptian protester flees as anti-riot police fire tear gas in Cairo (AP)

Egyptian protesters have defied a curfew as the army was deployed on the streets of Cairo for the first time in four days of anti-government demonstrations.

Parts of the ruling party headquarters in Cairo were going up in flames apparently set by enraged protesters demanding the removal from power of 82-year-old president Hosni Mubarak.

The 6pm to 7am curfew was imposed across the entire country after thousands of protesters clashed with police across the country.

One protester was killed and pro-reform leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei was placed under house arrest after joining demonstrations.

Flames rose up across a number of cities from burning tyres and police cars.

“I can’t believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this,” said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26.

“I’ve been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We’re going to make sure of it.”

In one of many astonishing scenes earlier, thousands of anti-government protesters wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in central Cairo and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.

After chasing the police, thousands of protesters were able to flood into the huge Tahrir Square after being kept out most of the day by a very heavy police presence. Few police could be seen around the square after the confrontation.

Thousands of protesters were also trying to storm the state TV building and the Foreign Ministry, while others were looting television sets and electric fans from the burning ruling party headquarters nearby after the entire complex was set ablaze.

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