A string of draconian measures enforced by authorities has fuelled the Egyptian uprising, which on Friday began to seriously question the future of the 30-year-old dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak.
By nightfall, the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) in downtown Cairo was on fire, and protesters had stormed the Foreign Ministry building. As Egypt's revolt flared uncontrollably, the Army was called out to reinforce a curfew that was imposed at 7 p.m. local time.
Several waves of protesters have overwhelmed police in Suez city, on the edge of the Suez canal, a key international waterway. The opposition Muslim Brotherhood claimed on its website in the evening that the port city of Alexandria is “completely under the People's control (and) police forces (have been) surrounded in (a) football field.” But by night the Army, the bastion of Mr. Mubarak's regime, was apparently moving in to re-establish control over Egypt's second largest city.
Amid high drama, the approaches leading to Cairo's Tahrir (liberation) Square, the focal point after nightfall of Tuesday's clashes, had, by afternoon, emerged as a major battleground. Braving a barrage of teargas, at least 20,000 protesters packed the Qasr al-Nil Bridge that connects Giza, famous for its Pyramids to Tahrir Square.
Thousands of activists clashed with security forces outside of Al-Azhar Mosque, in Islamic Cairo after Friday prayers, AFP reported.
A Reuters report from Cairo said at least five protesters were killed during the clashes. It was not immediately clear how they died.
Reports of protests and heavy violence poured without a break from Alexandria, Suez, the Nile delta and the Sinai desert, illustrating the massive countrywide sweep of the irrepressible protests.
The spate of demonstrations witnessed have come in the face of an intense security crackdown. Mohammad ElBaradei, a future reformist presidential hopeful who returned to Cairo on Thursday night was put under house arrest following afternoon prayers at the Giza mosque. Prior to his detention, he said that the end of the regime was “imminent.”
“They [the regime] are completely desperate. I hope the pictures will be everywhere to show how barbaric, petrified, and dictatorial the regime is. Now it's the people versus the thugs.”
Ibrahim Eissa, former Editor-in-Chief of the Arabic daily Al-Dostour, who was at Mr. ElBaradei's side, said the regime “seems terrified that these protests are turning into a full-fledged revolution.