Police fired rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators in the eastern city of Suez, on a third day of protests calling for an end to Mubarak’s 30 year-old-rule, a witness said.
Across the eastern city of Ismailia, hundreds of protesters clashed with police, who dispersed the crowds with tear gas.
ElBaradei told Reuters before he left Vienna for Egypt to join in demonstrations that it was time for Mubarak to step aside.
“He has served the country for 30 years and it is about time for him to retire,” ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former head of the UN nuclear agency, said. “Tomorrow is going to be, I think, a major demonstration all over Egypt and I will be there with them.”
ElBaradei’s arrival could spur protesters who have no figurehead, although many activists resent his absences in recent months.
Egyptians torched a police post in Suez early on Thursday in response to the killing of three demonstrators earlier in the week, a Reuters witness said. Police fled the post before the protesters burned it using petrol bombs.
On Wednesday evening, people in Suez had set a government building and another police post on fire and tried to burn down a local office of Egypt’s ruling party. The fires were all put out before they engulfed the buildings but dozens more protesters gathered in front of the partially burned police post later on Thursday morning.
A Twitter entry called for a march at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Thursday in Giza, an area of Cairo. In recent days, people have burned tires and hurled stones at police in the city center.
The anti-government protests, unprecedented during Mubarak’s rule of a state that is a key U.S. ally, have seen police fire rubber bullets and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and petrol bombs.
One policeman was killed in Cairo in the clashes, which erupted on Tuesday inspired by a popular revolt in Tunisia. Thousands of protesters also took to the streets in Yemen on Thursday to demand a change of government there. Protesters in all three countries complain about surging prices, a lack of jobs and authoritarian rule that has relied on heavy-handed security to keep dissenting voices quiet.
Al-Arabiya television said on Thursday Egypt’s general prosecutor had charged 40 protesters with trying to “overthrow the regime”.
A page on Facebook announcing Friday’s protest gained 55,000 supporters in less than 24 hours.
”Egypt’s Muslims and Christians will go out to fight against corruption, unemployment and oppression and absence of freedom,” wrote an activist on Facebook, which alongside sites like Twitter have been key tools to rally people onto the streets.
Egypt’s stock exchange halted trading on Thursday morning after the benchmark index slid more than 6 percent for a second day. The prices of two London-listed stocks focused on Egypt also tumbled. The Egyptian pound has fallen to its lowest level in six-years against the U.S. dollar.
Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, whose resignation is being demanded by the protesters, has dismissed the demonstrations.
”Egypt’s system is not marginal or frail. We are a big state, with an administration with popular support. The millions will decide the future of this nation, not demonstrations even if numbered in the thousands,” he told Kuwait’s al-Rai newspaper, according to the newspaper’s website.
“Our country is stable and not shaken by such actions.” Witnesses say demonstrators have been dragged away, beaten and shoved into police vans. The Interior Ministry said on Wednesday that 500 had been arrested. An independent coalition of lawyers said at least 1,200 were detained.