UPDATED: Members of Mubarak Family Flee Country? Egypt Rocked by Violence as Nationwide Protests Rage Against US-Backed Dictator
Udpate: Twitter confirms that it was blocked in Egypt.
Update: The Examiner, citing the foreign press, reports that members of Hosni Mubarak's family have fled the country:
An Italian news publication has just announced that Gamal Mubarak, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's son who is widely tipped as his successor, has fled to London with his family, Arabic website Akhbar al-Arab said on Tuesday, January 24, 2011.
Gamal Mubarak is seen as Hosni Mubarak's successor. The report is unconfirmed, but goes on to say that the family and 97 pieces of luggage on board left for London on Tuesday from an airport in western Cairo.
Update: Reuters confirms three people have been killed in the protests.
Two Egyptians died in protests in the Egyptian city of Suez, one of several places countrywide where demonstrators called for an end to President Hosni Mubarak's rule, medical and security sources said on Tuesday.
State television also said a security officer died in central Cairo in a square where thousands of protesters had gathered and clashed with police.
Update: In this dramatic footage purportedly shot earlier today in Egypt, riot police retreat in the face of massed opposition.
Update: French media reporting that two protesters were killed in clashes in the Suez region. The report remains unconfirmed.
Update: The Guardianreports that street protests aren't limited to Egypt:
Protesters burned tyres and blocked roads after Najib Mikati, who is backed by Hezbollah, was named as prime minister. Hezbollah, then in opposition, ousted prime minister Saad Hariri earlier this month because he would not renounce support for a tribunal investigating who killed his father, the former PM Rafiq Hariri; Hezbollah members are likely to be implicated.
Mikati is to start talks on forming a new government on Thursday, and today appealed to the country's political factions to overcome their divisions. Twenty people were injured in protests in Tripoli, called by Sunni Muslims loyal to Hariri. His premiership will be seen as shifting the balance of power in the country towards Syria and Iran.
Update: The Atlantic notes that Twitter updates indicate a brutal crackdown may be in the works:
Today's incredible showing in Cairo, in which protesters appeared only minimally challenged by the notorious Egyptian police, who were for a while tremendously outnumbered, had many Egypt-watchers allowing themselves a moment of guarded optimism.
But that optimism has quickly given way to horror as riot police, and perhaps the military, have begun to brutally crack down. So far, the only reports from the protest are on Twitter; they are preliminary, unvetted, and may turn out to paint an incomplete picture. But they portray a sudden and violent response from police, as well as possibly the massive Egyptian military, which is paid for in part by over a billion dollars in annual U.S. military aid.
CAIRO — Egyptian police on Tuesday fired tear gas at thousands of protesters gathered in central Cairo to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and calling for reforms, an AFP reporter said.
The protesters, carrying flags and chanting slogans against the government, had rallied in central Tahrir square in a protest inspired by the uprising in Tunisia which led to the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The original story appears below:
CAIRO — Hundreds of Egyptian demonstrators calling for economic and political reforms broke through police barriers on Tuesday and began marching in Cairo's streets, in a protest inspired by Tunisia's uprising.
Protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court in downtown Cairo and held large signs that read "Tunisia is the solution" amid massive police deployment, an AFP correspondent said.
Chanting "Down with Mubarak" --in reference to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who has been in power for three decades-- they broke through several police cordons and began marching towards Tahrir Square, in scenes seldom witnessed in Egypt.
Others shouted "Tunisia is not better than Egypt" as the crowds began to swell.
A security official told AFP that at least 20,000 to 30,000 police had been mobilised in the centre of the capital alone, and that the area housing the interior ministry had been sealed off.
The call was first launched by pro-democracy youth group the April 6 movement, to coincide with a national holiday to celebrate Police Day.
Among demands are the ouster of Interior Minster Habib al-Adly, whose police and security forces have been accused of heavy-handedness; the removal of the decades-old emergency law and a rise in minimum wages.
In December, the self-immolation of 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi unleashed a wave of street riots across the North African country that culminated in the dramatic ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years in power.
Bouazizi's attempt to draw attention to economic hardship and repression sparked a series of copycat public torchings in Egypt, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
Copyright © 2011 AFP. All rights reserved.