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Egyptian activist and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei joined cheering anti-government protesters at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday, walking among them and encouraging their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak.
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Demonstrators who again defied the military-ordered curfew surrounded the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and some held his hands as he walked to the centre of the square.
"You have taken back your rights and what we have begun cannot go back," he told the protesters, who shouted "down with Mubarak" and "the people want the regime to fall."
Thousands of protesters who remained in the square long after the curfew made fires to stay warm and vowed to camp out at the site until Mubarak leaves office, the CBC's Susan Ormiston reported from Cairo.
Despite many tanks in the square, the scene has remained conflict-free so far between the army and the protesters. Many demonstrators posed for pictures in front of the tanks as the soldiers looking on appeared "bored," Ormiston said.
ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, returned to Egypt last week when the current wave of anti-government protests picked up steam and said he would run for president if constitutional changes allowed it.
In an interview with CNN earlier Sunday, ElBaradei said Mubarak must leave Egypt "today" to save the country from further turmoil.
A sixth day of anti-government demonstrations followed a night of widespread looting as protesters rejected Mubarak's attempt to hang on to power with promises of reform and a new government.
With the president facing calls to end his 30-year rule, attention is again on central Cairo, where the army has been deployed to replace police forces that have used sometimes deadly force to disperse protesters.
Vigilante groups patrol neighbourhoods
CBC IS THERE
Reporter Susan Ormiston:
"I’ve just spent several hours in the Liberation [Tahrir] Square in central Cairo and there are thousands of people chanting still, camping out and making fires to stay a little bit warm. And they are intending to stay there, they tell me, until President Mubarak leaves office. That is their mission."
Reporter Nahlah Ayed:
"I was at a hospital today where a bunch of men tried to break in yesterday, and it was the local neighbourhood people who stepped in to stop them. So people are taking matters into their own hands in residential areas."
Since thousands of protesters took to the streets in Cairo and other major cities across Egypt last Tuesday, more than 75 people have been killed, according to medical officials quoted by Reuters. About 2,000 have been injured.
Overnight and into the morning, volunteers armed with guns, clubs and knives stood guard outsides homes and shops in Cairo to prevent looting. Despite their efforts, windows were smashed and goods were stolen from the city's Arcadia shopping centre and it was set on fire.
Residents and shopkeepers in affluent neighbourhoods boarded up their houses and stores. Looters roamed the streets with knives and sticks, stealing what they could and destroying cars, windows and street signs.
As the curfew ended for the night, residents dismantled the barricades. Banks, the stock exchange and schools were expected to remain closed for the day.
Several buildings could be seen still smoldering on Sunday as thousands of anti-regime protesters remaining camped out at the city's main square in defiance of an extended nighttime curfew.
Mubarak had tried to quell the protests by dismissing the cabinet on Friday and naming a new vice president on Saturday, but demonstrators maintain he must step down.
With police absent from the streets, gangs of armed men attacked as many as four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday. About 1,000 inmates escaped from Prison Demu in Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, state-run Nile TV reported.
Looters broke into Cairo's famed Museum of Egyptian Antiquities overnight, tearing the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 objects before they were arrested.
Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief, said the museum is now under army protection.
The military's role remains unclear. Several protesters said they have felt a kind of solidarity with the army. At one point on Saturday morning, it appeared soldiers were allowing protesters to take shelter behind three armoured vehicles at Tahrir Square as police fired warning shots into the air.
The police have been blamed for many of the clashes on the streets. On Saturday, police opened fire on protesters who tried to storm the interior ministry, killing at least one demonstrator.[GALLERY id=4374 cat=news]