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Egyptians celebrate "victory" as Libyans mourn their dead

Thousands gathered at Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday for a planned "Day of Victory" rally to celebrate the one-week anniversary of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.


While protesters in Middle Eastern capitals were counting their dead Friday after rare displays of defiance against leaders who have held power for decades, Egyptians were celebrating.

Thousands gathered at Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday for a planned "Day of Victory" rally to celebrate the one-week anniversary of the ouster of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and to remind the military that Egyptians were watching the ongoing reform process.

Al Jazeera was showing a huge crowd of flag-waving Egyptians gathering at the square — the epicenter of 18 days of protests that led to Mubarak stepping down. Celebrations were expected in other Egyptian cities Friday as well.

Hundreds of military police in red berets were already manning the square Friday morning and a military band entertained the festive crowd.

The Coalition of the Revolution Youth, which groups pro-democracy movements that helped launch the revolt, have called for the gathering to "remember the martyrs of freedom and dignity and justice," after at least 365 were killed and 5,500 injured in the protests, according to the health ministry.

Meanwhile, up to 50 people were reported killed in Libya in clashes between security forces and protesters in recent days, according to rights activists, social media and purported witnesses.

Funerals for Libyans killed after deadly clashes in several towns, including the capital, Tripoli, in a rare show of defiance against strongman Muammar Gaddafi, were expected to act as a catalyst for more protests Friday.

Tight controls on media and communications made it difficult to assess the extent of the violence, but unverified reports on social network sites said up to 50 people had died.

Libyan state television purported to show images labelled "live" of pro-Gaddafi protesters out on the streets early on Friday, singing and surrounding his limousine as it crept along a road in the capital, Tripoli, packed with people carrying his portrait.

And in Bahrain, officials put the death toll from Thursday's raid of Pearl Square, Manama, by state security forces at three, although the Shiite opposition said four were killed in the attack in which nearly 200 people were wounded. Funerals for those killed in the crackdown on anti-government demonstrations in the capital could be a flashpoint for further violence.

Crowds have also taken to the streets in Yemen and Iran over the last few days, inspired by the toppling of Egypt's Mubarak and of Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, demanding more representation for themselves, among other new freedoms.

In Libya, the worst clashes appear to have taken place in the second city of Benghazi, where support for Gaddafi has historically been weaker than in other parts of the country.

In Egypt, the opposition coalition has vowed to keep up the pressure to ensure the rest of its political demands are met, including the "immediate release of all detainees," it said in statement posted on Facebook.

Gamal Eid, a lawyer who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, told Agence France-Presse: "There are hundreds of detained, but information on their numbers is still not complete ... The army was holding detainees."

Both Amnesty and the New York-based Human Rights Watch have said they interviewed former detainees who described being tortured by the military.

The coalition of activists is also calling for "a speedy replacement of the current caretaker cabinet by a government of technocrats" that are not seen as corrupt, it said.

Pro-democracy activists are also seeking an investigation into the deaths during the uprising, a lifting of the decades-old emergency law, and support for the pay strikes that have surged around the country.

Meanwhile, Egypt's new military rulers have launched their own Facebook page targeted at the youth of the beleaguered country.