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Anti-Mubarak Protest Crowds Swell Across Egypt

Anti-government protesters, and Egyptian Army soldiers on top of their vehicles, make traditional Muslim Friday prayers at the continuing demonstration in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, February 11, 2011

Hundreds of thousands of anti-government demonstrators have spread out across Cairo and other Egyptian cities, after President Hosni Mubarak refused their demand to resign immediately.

Crowds massed after Friday prayers in several areas of Cairo and big cities throughout Egypt.

The military is deployed as tens of thousands of protesters packed into Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square. Chanting demonstrators waved Egyptian flags as they rally in what appears to be a growing sea of tents in the square. Demonstrators have also swarmed around the state radio and television building and the presidential palace in the Cairo suburb of Heliopolis.

Anti-Mubarak demonstrators have also massed at other locations, including Alexandria and outside of government buildings in Suez.

News organizations quote officials as saying Mr. Mubarak left the capital and traveled to his residence in the Red Sea resort Sharm El-Sheik.

Late Thursday, Mr. Mubarak angered protesters who were expecting him to announce his resignation. Instead, he promised in a televised statement to turn day-to-day powers over to Vice President Omar Suleiman. His announcement sparked jeers and chants of "he must leave" from the protesters in the streets.

Egypt's military has endorsed the transfer of powers from President Mubarak to Vice President Suleiman and called for a return to normal life in the Egyptian capital.

The military released its statement Friday after a meeting of its Supreme Council, on a day protest organizers predicted the largest demonstrations since the start of the popular uprising last month.

The military statement said the army will ensure that reforms proposed by Mr. Mubarak are carried out as planned, including the eventual lifting of 30-year-old emergency laws that enabled the government to keep tight control on Egyptian citizens. The statement also promised that the presidential election scheduled for September will be free and fair. The military urged protesters to return to their homes.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the Egyptian people have been told "there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient.''

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

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