Cairo, Feb 4 (Agencies): Ignoring Army orders to "go home", tens of thousands of protesters on Friday laid a siege at Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding immediate resignation of beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak, who rejected the Friday deadline to step down, saying it will plunge Egypt into "chaos".

In the backdrop of reports that the US is trying to broker a deal for a Care-taker government in Egypt headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman, huge crowds thronged central Cairo, the hub of 11-day protests that have claimed over 300 lives and injured over 800, for a so-called "Day of Departure" rally against Mubarak, shouting slogans, bowing in prayer and waving national flags.

Thousands including families with children walked over bridges across the river Nile into Tahrir Square, despite the storms of hurled concrete, metal rebar and firebombs knurled at them by pro-Mubarak crowds atop fighters on horses and camels and with automatic weapons.

Under the close watch of armed security personnel and surrounded by armoured vehicles, some of the protesters carried bread, food, fruits and bottled water for those who stuck out
at the Square overnight.

Protesters in the square held up signs reading "Now!", massing around 100,000 in the largest gathering since the quarter-million who gathered on Tuesday.

The protesters dubbed Friday's protest as the "Day of Departure" for 82-year-old Mubarak, who has ruled the country since 1981, while state TV called it the "Day of allegiance"
to the President”.

Thousands prostrated themselves in the noon prayers, then immediately after uttering the prayer's concluding "God's peace and blessings be upon you," they began chanting their message to Mubarak: "Leave! Leave! Leave!"

Egyptian Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi, who is also Deputy PM, along with top Army officials visited the Square, where soldiers checked IDs and frisked protesters at
entrances, to examine the situation first hand, state TV reported.

Protest organisers had set the deadline for the President to quit by Friday, but he refused to bow to the pressure.

In an interview to ABC News, his first since the revolt began last week, Mubarak said he is "fed up" and wants to quit but fears that the nation will "sink in chaos" if he steps
down at this stage.


Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that the Obama administration is in talks with top Egyptian leaders to broker a deal for Mubarak's exit and establishment of an Army-backed transitional government headed by the Egyptian Vice President Suleiman.
Suleiman had last night demanded that the protests come to an end as he promised that the Army would "not use any violence."

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the prominent opposition leaders, lay out his scenario on Friday: a transitional government headed by a presidential council of two or three figures, including a military representative.

ElBaradei said he respects Suleiman as someone to negotiate with over the transition, but did not address whether he should have any presidential role.

The Vice President offered talks with the opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned since an attempt on the life of former President Jamal Abd-al-Nasir in 1954.

Muslim Brotherhood has said it is ready to hold talks on a "transition arrangement" in the violence-wracked nation on condition that Mubarak steps down.

Al-Jazeera news network said a "gang of thugs" stormed its offices in continuation of attacks on journalists by regime supporters that erupted on Thursday. It said the attackers burned the office and damaged equipment. This was a part of the attacks that have occurred on various media men including those from India.