Cairo, Jan 29 (Agencies): In his response to the unrest against his iron fisted rule, the embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to quit but sacked his Cabinet which later resigned.

"I have asked the government to present its resignation and on Sunday there will be a new government," Mubarak said in his television speech.

Egyptian state television said that the Mubarak Cabinet has officially resigned after days of protests, hours after the President fired his Cabinet promising democratic and economic reform.

Mubarak, who defended riot police's firing of tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons at protesters, promised democratic and economic reforms.

"We will not backtrack on reforms. We will continue with new steps which will ensure the independence of the judiciary and its rulings, and more freedom for citizens," he said in
his first statement since the protests against his rule erupted.

Mubarak vowed to take fresh measures "to contain unemployment, raise living standards, improve services and stand by the poor."

But he refused to step down, setting the stage for possible heavier protests by tens of thousands of activists demanding his resignation.

Meanwhile, the death toll rose to 48 in nationwide protests and clashes with police which
entered the fifth day on Saturday.

As the situation in the world's most populous Arab nation deteriorated, tens of thousands of protesters returned to the streets in several cities and dissatisfied with Mubarak's promise in his midnight television address to the nation to usher in fresh reforms.

The Pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo--Egypt's premier tourist site--were closed by the military to tourists as tanks guarded key government buildings in the Capital, a day after
massive and violent confrontations in escalating crisis that threatened 82-year-old Mubarak's 30-year rule.

Nationwide violence

Three policemen were killed when Egyptian protesters attacked the state security headquarters in the border town of Rafah in fresh wave of violence on Saturday.

An Egyptian Health Ministry official said 38 people died and 2,000 were wounded in virulent anti-government demonstrations on Friday after prayers. Details of the deaths were announced today. Seven people had died in the first three days of protests.

In Friday's anti-government riots, 12 people were killed in Cairo, 12 in Suez, eight in Alexandria, three in the canal city of Port Said, two in the Delta city of Mansura and
one in Giza, the official said.

Pro-democracy hero and top dissident Mohamed ElBaradei said Mubarak "must go", vowing that protests against his rule would intensify.

"The protests will continue with even more intensity until the Mubarak regime falls," the Nobel Laureate and former IAEA chief told a TV channel.

Dozens of military armoured personnel carriers and tanks as well as soldiers on foot deployed around a number of key government buildings in the capital, including state
television and the Foreign Ministry after thousands of protesters besieged the two offices in Friday's riots.

The military was protecting important 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 Army warned the people to obey a curfew and to refrain from congregating in public places, according to a statement carried by the official MENA agency.

Curfew extended

The military extended a night curfew imposed Friday in the three major cities where the worst violence has been seen --Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

State television reported the curfew would now begin at 4 p.m. and last until 8 a.m., longer than the 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. ban on Friday night.

Notwithstanding Mubarak's announcement about sacking of the government, thousands of protesters continued to defy curfew in the capital Cairo and cities of Alexandria and Suez
and poured on the streets, with many of them even asking patrolling soldiers to join them.

There were reports of looting in several parts of Cairo, including in offices related to the government.

US talks tough

US President Barack Obama on Saturday asked Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to not use violence against the thousands of protesters in the streets in a 30-minute phone call to the embattled President.

Obama spoke with Mubarak after the latter addressed his nation, saying he was asking his government to make way for a new one and pledged to address the concerns of thousand of protesting Egyptians.

He also warned that the US would review billions of dollars in aid to Egypt based how the security forces behaved with protesters. Egypt is the second highest beneficiary of US foreign aid.

"I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters," Obama said, after aides said the White House was readying for any possible political scenarios in Egypt.

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association. The right to free speech and the ability to determine their own destiny," he added.

    
READ MORE: Protesters back on Cairo streets