CAIRO, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- At least three people were killed in Egypt Tuesday as thousands took to the streets for anti-government protests, officials said.
Thousands of demonstrators demanding that President Hosni Mubarak step down clashed with riot police in Cairo, The New York Times said.
The Times reported security officials said a soldier died of injuries he suffered during the protest, and two protesters were killed in the town of Suez.
The protests were mobilized largely on the Internet and took inspiration from recent events in Tunisia, where the country's autocratic president had to flee abroad in the face of similar protests, the Times said.
Protesters -- chanting "Freedom, freedom, freedom. Where are the Egyptian people?" -- occupied one of Cairo's squares for hours despite police attempts to disperse them using tear gas and water cannons, the report said..
Thousands also demonstrated in Alexandria and other large cities.
In Cairo, what started as several demonstrations, all of them declared illegal, coalesced into a huge rally in central Tahrir Square, The Guardian reported. Demonstrators, many of them holding Egyptian or Tunisian flags, pulled down a billboard for Mubarak's NDP Party and chanted "depart Mubarak."
"This is the first day of the Egyptian revolution," Karim Rizk, an organizer, told protesters at one rally. "We have taken back our streets today from the regime and they won't recover from the blow."
While police used water cannons, smoke bombs and tear gas to break up the demonstration in Cairo, the government suspended online access for some time to isolate the protesters. One group took on police as its members attempted to get to the Parliament building.
Organizers selected Jan. 25 as a day of protest because it is Police Day, a holiday normally dedicated to honoring police officers. In Cairo, some demonstrators chanted "terrorists" as they confronted police.
Large demonstrations were reported in Alexandria and the Sinai Peninsula. Many people said this was their first experience with protest with the owner of a coffee shop in northern Cairo shouting "Egypt is waking up" as he turned from businessman into activist.
"It was impossible to rally like this before, but today I knew I had to come out," Ahmed Ashraf, a 26-year-old bank employee, told The Guardian. "This is our Tunisia."