"The detained people insisted on gathering and demonstrating without authorisation, thus threatening public order," a police official was quoted as saying on Thursday.

 

Police on Wednesday clashed with anti-Mubarak protesters in several towns, firing tear gas to disperse the crowds as demonstrations were held across the country, according to the banned but tolerated Brotherhood.

 

Activists have escalated their campaign for constitutional and political reforms in the country in recent weeks, with many calling for the veteran leader to step down when his mandate expires later this year.

 

Protesters also denounced the state-owned media as "corrupt" and chanted slogans calling for the abolition of emergency laws that have been in place since the 1981 assassination of Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat.