Tear gas used to disperse thousands of demonstrators in central Cairo after a day of protests against the government.
Two civilians and a police officer have died after a wave of unusually large anti-government demonstrations swept across Egypt, calling for the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
In central Cairo, crowds numbering in the thousands protested and clashed with police throughout the day. Shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning, security forces violently dispersed those who remained in Tahrir Square, the heart of the city, Al Jazeera's Adam Makary reported.
Security officers fired tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to drive the protesters from the square, where they had chosen to remain throughout the night in protest. An Al Jazeera cameraman was shot with rubber bullets several times, including once in the face, Makary said.
Telephone communication with people in central Cairo was nearly impossible, but Makary reported that the crowds, which had been peaceful, had been forced to escape the police, who fired dozens of tear gas canisters...
Protests also broke out in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the Nile Delta cities of Mansura and Tanta, and in the southern cities of Aswan and Assiut, witnesses reported.
The rallies had been promoted online by groups saying they speak for young Egyptians frustrated by the kind of poverty and oppression which triggered the overthrow of Tunisia's president. More than 80,000 people signed a Facebook group saying they would participate in the protests.
Egyptian blogger Hossam El Hamalawy told Al Jazeera that new media had been important in facilitating "the domino effect" needed for demonstrations like this one to progress, but he noted that it was the people in the street making the difference.
"We want a functioning government, we want Mubarak to step down...