Thousands of anti-government demonstrators were crowing the streets of Egypt’s biggests cities Saturday, repeating demands that President Hosni Mubarak stand down.
Mubarak addressed the nation overnight, sacking the government and vowing economic and political reforms. The ramped up unrest comes as cabinet on Saturday submitted its resignation.
Latest reports put the death toll at 50, a day after Mubarak, who is refusing to cede power, ordered the army to tackle the deadly protests.
Angry mobs streamed into Tahrir square, in the capital, Cairo, a focal point for the protests and street battles that have raged since Tuesday.
Police who have been battling protestors with tear gas, water cannon and rubber-coated bullets were absent, while tanks were deployed on the square and at strategic sites around Cairo.
Clashes also erupted in the key port city of Ismailiya, east of Cairo, where thousands of workers fought running battles with police.
In his address, the 82-year-old Mubarak insisted there would be a new government. "We will not backtrack on reforms. We will continue with new steps which will ensure the independence of the judiciary and its rulings, and more freedom for citizens," he said.
Protesters, who are also demanding an end to endemic state corruption and police brutality, dismissed Mubarak’s speech as too little, too late.
Shops and offices were looted overnight as thousands defied the night-time curfew in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.
There were reports of demonstrators clambering onto army tanks and urging soldiers to join them.
In Alexandria, hundreds camped out by the main mosque in the centre of the Mediterranean city vowing to protest again, with several police stations still in flames amid sporadic looting.
Despite the ongoing protests, two Cairo mobile phone networks came back on line on Saturday, a day after all Egyptian operators were instructed to cut their services.
But Internet services appeared to remain cut, with the inability to use microblogging sites such as Twitter or social networking sites such as Facebook affecting activists' coordination of their activities.
US President Barack Obama called on the Egyptian authorities not to use violence against the political protests.
Obama urged Mubarak to take "concrete" steps towards political reforms, saying he must turn "a moment of volatility" into "a moment of promise.
Meanwhile leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei told RFI sister station France 24 television Saturday that Mubarak "must go".