Egyptian authorities cracked down early Wednesday morning after thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Cairo and other cities across Egypt to demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule in some of the largest protests to hit the nation in recent memory.
At least three people were reported killed during the clashes. Two were demonstrators and one was a soldier who died of injuries sustained during a protest.
The protests come amid a wave of popular anger across the Arab world after a people-led uprising ousted the ruling president in Tunisia. Like in Tunisia, Egyptians are demanding an end to autocratic rule, low unemployment and grinding poverty, as reported earlier by GlobalPost.
Thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahir Square Tuesday, chanting "Down with Hosni Mubarak, down with the tyrant," and "We don't want you!" AP reports.
Unlike past protests in Egypt, when only elite politicians and activists participated, Tuesday's demonstrations included people of varying classes, ages and affiliations.
Egyptian riot police responded by firing tear gas and rubber bullets and beating up protesters, but their efforts initially proved futile against the angry crowds who refused to leave the Cairo square. A security force waited until 1 a.m. and then moved in, arresting people and firing tear gas.
"The sound of what appeared to be automatic weapons fire could be heard as riot police and plainclothes officers chased several hundred protesters who scrambled onto the main road along the Nile in downtown Cairo. Some 20 officers were seen brutally beating one protester with truncheons," AP reports.
"It got broken up ugly with everything, shooting, water cannon and (police) running with the sticks," Gigi Ibrahim, one of the last protesters to leave the square, told AP. "It was a field of tear gas. The square emptied out so fast."
Like in Tunisia, the protests in Egypt were largely organized via online tools like Twitter and Facebook. After a call went out on Facebook to join forces and protest on Jan. 25, about 90,000 people signed up. Organizers then used Twitter during the day to tell demonstrators where to go.
People have also used Twitter to post videos and information directly from the streets. Popular hashtags have been #Jan25, #EgyRevolt and #Egypt. See results for #Jan25. This is a popular Facebook page for supporters: We are all Khaled Said.
Mashable reports that Egyptian authorities have attempted to block Twitter and other online tools.
Watch these videos from the protests. One man tells the camera: "Today may not be the end. It could be the start of what I believe will be the final stage."
Here are more videos of the protests.
Check out these striking photographs from the protests.
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