Protesters block Egyptian parliament
Protesters in Cairo gathered outside Egypt's parliament on Wednesday, demanding that the assembly be dissolved as part of their campaign to bring President Hosni Mubarak's regime to an end. Meanwhile trade unions have called strikes nationwide to ask for higher wages and better working conditions.
Hundreds of demonstrators blocked the entrance to parliamentary buildings in central Cairo, several blocks away from Tahrir Square, until now the focal point of the protests.
Soldiers surrounded the buildings, which have reportedly been evacuated.
Protesters say the Egyptian parliament, which is dominated by Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), is part of the president's regime and therefore must be dissolved.
Protests against the government are now in their 16th day.
Demonstrators continue to occupy Tahrir Square, where loudspeakers on Wednesday played the rallying cry, "Do not be tired, freedom isn't free".
Across the country thousands of workers joined a strike called by labour unions, including around 6,000 people at Egypt's crucial trade link, the Suez Canal.
There have also been reports of violence in the south of Egypt. Security sources say at least three people were killed and 100 injured over the past two days in clashes between police and protesters in the town of El Kharga, in the New Valley region.
Mubarak has so far refused all calls for his resignation, despite domestic and international pressure.
His vice-president, Omar Suleiman, insists that the government has made significant concessions to the protest movement.
In its latest gesture, 34 political prisoners - including members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood - are reported to have been released since Monday.
According to Human Rights Watch, at least 302 people have been killed since 28 January.
Egypt's Health Ministry maintains that the count is lower, and says it will release its own figures shortly.
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