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Cairo: Security Vacuum as Police Vanish

Egyptian civilians carrying batons and sticks stand guard behind barricades in a Cairo street as they protect their properties from looters on January 29, 2011. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED ABED (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
Last Updated at 9:15 p.m. EST

CAIRO - Egypt's Army has made a statement on state television that they would not use violence against the demonstrators, as the unrest in Cairo and other major cities continued into its fifth day.

Reporting by phone from Cairo (where Internet access is still down), CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer said that there are about 10,000 people in Cairo's Tahrir Square this evening, and that the curfew is being completely ignored.

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Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named a vice president Saturday for the first time since coming to power nearly 30 years ago - a clear step toward setting up a successor in the midst of the biggest anti-government protests of his regime.

"What we want is for Mubarak to leave, not just his government," Mohammed Mahmoud, a demonstrator in the city's main Tahrir Square, said Saturday. "We will not stop protesting until he goes."

Palmer reports that the army has been driving around in the square with demonstrators hanging off their tanks, giving people rides.

Demonstrators are chanting, "Down with Mubarak, Mubarak must go," said Palmer. "They're not happy with the political sops a new vice president, new prime minister. That's inadequate for them - they still want an end to Mubarak."

One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped a picture of the president.

"We don't want him! We will go after him!" demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: "Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!"

After five days of protests, Cairo was engulfed in chaos. There was rampant looting and lawlessness was spreading fast. Residents of affluent neighborhoods were boarding up their houses against gangs of thugs roaming the streets with knives and sticks and gunfire was heard in some neighborhoods.

The death toll for five days of protests has risen sharply since Friday to at least 70 with about 2,000 injured on both sides, according to security officials.

In contrast, protesters have attacked police, who are hated for their brutality. On Friday, 17 police stations throughout Cairo were torched, with protesters stealing firearms and ammunition and setting some jailed suspects free. They also burned dozens of police trucks in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

Tanks and armored personnel carriers fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government buildings. Egyptian television reported the army was deploying reinforcements to neighborhoods to try to control the lawlessness.

The military was protecting major tourist and archaeological sites such as the Egyptian Museum, home to some of the country's most treasured antiquities, as well as the Cabinet building. The military closed the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo - Egypt's premiere tourist site.

Meanwhile, the police have vanished, says Palmer.

Palmer reports seeing Mubarak's party headquarters - which was set afire last night - was still smoldering this evening. She said that when the fire began Friday not a single fire truck showed up top put it out.

The security vacuum, Palmer says, has also allowed widespread looting of shopping malls, businesses in certain areas, and even homes.

A surgeon at University Hospital (also known as Ain Shams Hospital) told CBS News that over the last 24 hours they have seen 176 patients, 90 percent of whom suffered gunshot wounds. The vast majority were reportedly from live ammunition (the hospital official thought police ammunition) as opposed to rubber bullets.

Palmer reports that someone was shooting live rounds in the crowds at Tahir Square. Speculation was rampant that it was police who had removed their uniforms.