Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets as police stopped efforts by protesters to regroup Wednesday in Cairo, a day after waves of stone-throwing demonstrators occupied parts of the city for hours.
Police used tear gas to break up a crowd of several hundred activists who gathered in the central part of the city. Some threw rocks and burned tires as riot-clad police stood by.
Egyptian officials said Wednesday at least 500 demonstrators had been arrested across the country in the last tow days. Reuters news reported the arrests have taken place over the past two days.
Earlier Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said no new demonstrations would be allowed and it warned that protesters will be prosecuted.
Video footage of Egypt protests:
Despite the ban, an Egyptian opposition grouping called for more demonstrations in Cairo. The 6th of April Youth Movement used its Facebook page to urge protesters to continue action Wednesday.
On Tuesday, thousands of people took part in anti-government protests in Cairo and other cities, calling for an end to nearly three decades of rule by President Hosni Mubarak. Three civilians and a police officer were killed in the unrest. Egypt's government said at least 85 police officers were injured.
Tuesday's demonstrations began peacefully, with police at first showing restraint. Several people said the clashes in Cairo began after protesters tried to take control of a water cannon truck.
Such a coordinated wave of anti-government protests has not been seen in Egypt since Mubarak assumed power in 1981 after Islamists assassinated President Anwar Sadat.
The protests were promoted online by groups saying they speak for young Egyptians frustrated with the kind of poverty and oppression that triggered Tunisia's unrest.
Since Tunisia's anti-government protests, at least five Egyptians have attempted suicide by self-immolation, imitating the young Tunisian whose burning death in December first galvanized protesters there.
Slideshow of protest photos