Egyptian police yesterday arrested seven youth leaders of the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square shortly after they visited leading dissident Mohamed ElBaradei, their families said.

The seven were named as Shadi al-Ghazali Harb, Amr Salah, Amr Ezz, Ahmed Doma, Amr Arafat, Nasser Mustafa Shawki and Abdel-Hamid.

Relatives said they were arrested at a café near the Pyramids of Giza outside of the capital shortly after visiting Nobel peace laureate Mr ElBaradei, who is considered a leader of the opposition by many involved in the anti-regime protests shaking Egypt.

Meanwhile deadly clashes between opponents and partisans of Hosni Mubarak raged for a second day yesterday as Egypt’s Vice President urged protesters to go home, criticising their demands for the President’s ouster as a “call for chaos”.

That was echoed by the 82-year-old veteran President himself, who told ABC TV he was “very unhappy” about the fighting and that he would like to step down but feared chaos would engulf the country.

Mr Mubarak, who has vowed not to stand in upcoming elections, has come under increasing pressure from the United States and the West to step down amid 10 days of violent protests against his 30-year rule.

But he said he had told US President Barack Obama “you don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now”.

The interview took place in the heavily-guarded presidential palace in Cairo, with Mr Mubarak’s son Gamal seated at his side, ABC said.

“I never intended to run again. I never intended Gamal to be President after me,” Mr Mubarak reportedly said.

He told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour that he had felt relief after announcing in an address to the nation that he would not run again for the presidency.

“I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country, I care about Egypt,” Mr Mubarak said as violent protests against his rule stretched into a 10th day.

Asked by Ms Amanpour how he was feeling, the veteran leader replied: “I am feeling strong. I would never run away. I will die on Egyptian soil.”

On Tuesday night, Mr Mubarak announced that he would not run for election to a sixth term in September, but said he would finish his mandate so he could guarantee an orderly transition.

He said he was “fed-up with being President and would like to leave office now, but cannot, he says, for fear that the country would sink into chaos,” ABC’s Ms Amanpour reported after an interview in Cairo.

The veteran leader added: “I was very unhappy about yesterday. I do not want to see Egyptians fighting each other.”

But while many protesters have accused government agents of provoking the latest violence, Ms Amanpour said Mr Mubarak “told me that... his government is not responsible for it”.

Instead, she said he blamed the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

Vice President Omar Suleiman, addressing protesters hunkered down in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, said: “End your sit-in. Your demands have been answered.”

The newly-appointed second in command and former head of the country’s intelligence services also suggested that attacks on protesters that have killed least five people and injured hundreds could have resulted from a plot.

“We will look into (the violence), into the fact it was a conspiracy,” Mr Suleiman said, adding that it could have been instigated by some “with foreign agendas, the Muslim Brotherhood, certain parties or businessmen”.

Yet in the same interview on state television, he said the banned Muslim Brotherhood had been invited to join talks between the government and opposition aimed at ending the protests.

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