Facing a popular uprising, Egypt's president fired his Cabinet early Saturday after protesters engulfed his country in chaos - battling police with stones and firebombs, burning down the ruling party headquarters and defying a night curfew enforced by the army.
In a nationally televised address at midnight, President Hosni Mubarak made vague promises of social reform but did not offer to step down himself. He also defended his security forces - outraging protesters calling for an end to his nearly 30-year regime.
"We want Mubarak to go and instead he is digging in further," protester Kamal Mohammad said. "He thinks it is calming down the situation but he is just angering people more."
Pouring onto the streets after Friday noon prayers, protesters ignored extreme government measures that included cutting off the Internet and mobile-phone services in Cairo and other areas, calling the army into the streets and imposing a nationwide nighttime curfew.
Egypt's crackdown on demonstrators drew harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington's most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.
Stepping up the pressure, President Barack Obama told a news conference he called Mubarak immediately after his TV address and urged the Egyptian leader to take "concrete steps" to expand rights and refrain from violence against protesters.