Thousands filled the streets of three cities along Egypt's Suez Canal, defying a curfew. Confrontations turned deadly in Cairo and Port Said as opponents of the government rejected talks.
Protesters flooded the streets of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez City as the 9 p.m. curfew came into effect on Monday.
A man was reported to have died of gunshot wounds sustained amid clashes in Cairo between rival groups of protesters close to Tahrir Square. Police in the area fired volleys of teargas.
Another man was shot and killed in Port Said. The AFP news agency reported that he died on the way to hospital after the shooting outside a police station during a confrontation between security forces and protesters. Police vehicles were set alight amid the violence.
Protesters in the three canal cities chanted slogans against Islamist rule in the country and the state of emergency. Protests also took place in the coastal city of Alexandria.
Demonstrators claim that President Mohammed Morsi has betrayed the revolutionary movement that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
The protesters are challenging the democratic legitimacy of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood. In the past two years, Islamists have won two referendums and a presidential vote.
'This is my duty'
The emergency measures, which included a 30-day curfew, were announced by the president on Sunday. "I find the nation facing dangers, I will have to take stricter measures. This is my duty," said Morsi. The Egyptian Cabinet on Monday approved a draft law that would allow the president to deploy the army "to cooperate with the police in preserving security and protecting vital establishments." Army units have already been deployed in Suez City and Port Said.
The main opposition National Salvation Front coalition on Monday rejected the offer by Morsi of a "national dialogue." The Front condemned the proposal as "cosmetic and not substantive."
"We will not participate in dialogue that is empty of content," leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters after a meeting of the coalition.
Already existing unrest was exacerbated by the imposition on Saturday of death sentences on 21 soccer fans convicted of involvement in a deadly stadium riot in Port Said last year. A total of 74 people were killed at the game between the local football club al Masry and the Cairo club al Ahly, whose fans played a key role in the protests that ousted Mubarak.
rc/jlw (AP, AFP, Reuters)
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