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The dramatic images coming out of Egypt show the sheer force of unarmed people against the police.

One example of this was in Alexandria where the once-feared security forces were taken on by crowds of people who said they were not allowed to protest peacefully after Friday prayers.

The police, accused of brutal repression with teargas, rubber bullets and even live rounds, eventually had to pull out of the streets, overwhelmed by the numbers turning out to confront them.

The scenes played out were what the authorities had been dreading since demonstrations began on Tuesday: public buildings under siege, set alight and ransacked, with people completely ignoring official warnings to abide by a nationwide curfew.

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