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Cairo, Egypt (CNN) — Thousands of Egyptians — taking to the streets across the country for a seventh straight day — defied a mid-afternoon government curfew Monday, despite a bulked-up and proactive military deployment scattered around the restive nation.

In Alexandria, an armored personnel carrier fired warning shots as around 2,000 to 3,000 people gathered. But the actions were seen as an apparent effort to intimidate protesters near a hotel.

A government-imposed curfew began at 3 p.m. (8 a.m. ET), but this daily restriction has been largely ignored by protesters over the past few days.

In Cairo, the crowd has swelled compared to Saturday and Sunday, and people gathered Monday in Tahrir Square, a focal point of the protests. Some of them said they had spent the night, and the smell of smoke from campfires lingered in the air.

Helicopters hovered overhead in Egypt’s capital as one group held signs and chanted, “The Egyptian people want the government to fall.”

Police have been virtually absent from the streets since Saturday, after a brutal crackdown a day earlier when thousands of riot and plainclothes police clashed violently with protesters.

But police forces were scheduled to start deploying and resuming their duties throughout Egypt on Monday, state-run Nile TV reported.

Activists in Cairo and Alexandria said they were organizing “million-man” marches in those cities for Tuesday, a week after the anti-government protests began.

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