CAIRO, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- Tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets across the country on Tuesday in the largest waves of protests the Arab nation has seen in decades.
Egyptians launch massive anti-regime demonstration, clash with police
Egyptian police disperse protesters in downtown Cairo
Cairo demonstrators call for Mubarak stepping down among other conditions
Till early Wednesday, violent clashes between police and demonstrators had killed one police officer in Cairo and two protesters in the port city of Suez. Security sources said over 50 policemen had been wounded. The number of injured protesters is yet to know.
Tuesday marked Egypt's National Police Day, yet demonstrators dubbed it a "Day of Anger" and followed an online call for massive protests against corruption, poverty, unemployment and other social and political grievances.
Among the demands of the protesters were an end to President Hosni Mubarak's rule, a change of the country's governing system and a solution to the country's rampant poverty and corruption.
The Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday night that it had decided to allow protesters to exercise their freedom of expression and commit security forces to safeguarding rather than confronting the gatherings.
But some protesters, "particularly a large number of those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood... began to riot, damage public property and throw stones at police forces," it added.
In downtown Cairo, security forces dispersed thousands of protesters, mostly young people, with tear gas on early Wednesday at Tahrir Square, where demonstrators had gathered since midday Tuesday, shouting anti-government slogans.
The demonstration started peacefully, but turned sour hours later. Riot police resorted to tear gas and water cannons, while protestors threw stones and attacked a water cannon truck in return.
Xinhua reporters at the scene saw some protesters wounded with blood shedding on their heads and some others beaten by police officers with sticks. Ambulances carried some people to hospitals.
Meanwhile, protests were also reported in other Egyptian cities, including the country's second largest city of Alexandria, the port cities of Suez and Ismailiya and the southern cities of Aswan and Assiut. Witnessed said the turnout of Alexandria's demonstrations exceeded 20,000.
The latest waves of protests were the largest since Mubarak took office in 1981. It came in the wake of several self-immolation cases apparently inspired by the recent dramatic developments in Tunisia, where the self-immolation of a fruit vendor triggered massive protests that eventually led to dramatic political changes.
The flare-up of violence also cast a thick cloud over the presidential election slated for later this year. Opposition parties demanded that both Mubarak and his son Gamal should not join the race.