Egyptian police have been fighting protesters in intensifying clashes, and demonstrations have reported from Yemen and Gabon a sign that defiance against authoritarian rulers in the Middle East is spreading.

Security forces shot dead a Bedouin protester in Egypt's Sinai region on Thursday, bringing the death in the three days of protests to five. Police in Suez fired rubber bullets, water cannon and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators calling for an end to the 30-year-old rule of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president. Protesters chucked rocks and petrol bombs at police lines. In Ismailia, hundreds of protesters clashed with police, who dispersed the crowds with tear gas.

Like in many other countries in the region, protesters in Egypt complain about surging prices, unemployment and the authorities' reliance on heavy-handed security to keep dissenting voices quiet. The protests are inspired by Tunisia, where a democratic movement recently overthrew the government.



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