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At least one thousand people have been arrested for participating in Egypt’s ongoing “Day of Anger” demonstrations, in which unprecedented numbers of protesters are calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.
"We believe that one thousand people--maybe more--were detained yesterday and today," said Khaled Ali, a lawyer with Cairo-based rights group the Egyptian Demonstrators Defense Front.
Most were detained in Cairo, Alexandria, Mansoura and Suez, said Ali, who went on to note that the Ministry of Interior was preventing detainees from contacting their families or lawyers.
According to Ali, detainees are being kept in two main camps used for training Egypt’s Central Security Forces (CSF), where government prosecutors are expected to go to question them.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry announced that it would not allow further protests. But thousands of Egyptians ignored the warning and prepared to stage a fresh round of demonstrations.
Hundreds of activists from various political groups, along with several journalists, were reportedly arrested on Wednesday throughout the country.
Around 26 journalists were arrested in a demonstration held in front of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. In another demonstration in downtown Cairo, hundreds of riot police filed in rows down a main street. Plainclothes police, meanwhile, bundled several dozen protesters into vans after breaking up the demonstration.
Dozens more were detained in the coastal city of Alexandria, where hundreds of protesters attempted to gather in central areas of the city, eyewitnesses said.
Police in the Upper Egyptian city of Assiut on Wednesday arrested 50 members of the National Association for Change reform movement, the Muslim Brotherhood and the 6 April protest group. Twenty women and 30 young men were also reportedly arrested.
Four activists have also been reported either arrested or detained by police in Tanta, where dozens of protesters attempting to stage demonstrations in front of the provincial governor’s office were dispersed by police.
Meanwhile, in Mahalla al-Kubra, police stormed the offices of the liberal opposition Democratic Front Party, arresting several activists.
The arrests, along with the sporadic use of violence by police, have been condemned by local and international rights groups.
“We witnessed reckless policing yesterday with the security forces relying on tear gas and using rubber bullet as a first resort,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “Security forces must be held in check.”
“Instead of threatening demonstrators, Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian authorities to open a proper investigation into the killings of protesters and hold accountable anyone found responsible,” she added.