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Mubarak Meets Economic Team as Protests Enter Day 12

Mubarak Meets Economic Team as Protests Enter Day 12

Mubarak Meets Economic Team as Protests Enter Day 12

Thousands of demonstrators are in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a 12th day of protests against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Early Saturday, gunfire rang out in the packed square, but there were no reports of casualties.

Egyptian state media report Mr. Mubarak met Saturday with his economic team, including several members of his new Cabinet, to discuss the crisis, which is costing the country an estimated $310 million a day.

On Friday, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters crammed into Tahrir Square for what they called the "day of departure" for Mr. Mubarak, who has vowed to finish his term in office.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa joined the demonstrators in the square Friday. The long-time Egyptian political figure has said he may consider running for president. Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi also visited the square Friday.

Also Friday, there were reports of clashes and shots fired into the air as military forces prevented a group of Mubarak supporters from entering Tahrir Square. Those demonstrators rallied elsewhere in Cairo for what they called a "Day of Loyalty."

Thousands of anti-government protesters also massed in Alexandria Friday for peaceful rallies. A VOA correspondent says one group of anti-Mubarak demonstrators gathered in the central part of town Friday while a second group rallied at a mosque. Thousands of people also rallied in Suez, Ismailia and other cities.

On Wednesday, a violent clash erupted in Tahrir Square between government opponents and supporters.

President Mubarak said earlier this week that he will not seek reelection when his term ends. In a Thursday interview with the U.S. broadcaster ABC, he said he would like to leave office now, but fears Egypt would sink deeper into chaos if he did.

Mr. Mubarak blamed the Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt's largest and best organized opposition group - for the violence in the capital over the past few days. Protesters say Mr. Mubarak's supporters sparked the violence by attacking anti-government demonstrators on Wednesday.

An Egyptian journalist died Friday from gunshot wounds suffered a week ago. Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud was taking photographs of fighting between protesters and security forces from the balcony of his home when he was shot. He is the first journalist to die in the crisis.

At least eight people have died and nearly 900 have been injured in the most recent two days of fighting around Tahrir Square.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.