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ABC via AFP
Egypt declared a state of high alert on Saturday as police clashed with protesters who raided a building housing the Israeli embassy in Cairo, prompting the US to call for protection of the mission.
During the violence, in which one person died of a heart attack and 448 people were injured according to state television, protesters tore down the Israeli flag and dumped thousand of diplomatic documents from a balcony.
Egypt's interior minister Mansur al-Eissawy declared a state of high alert and the government announced it was convening an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis.
Early on Saturday, Israel's ambassador flew out of the country, heading back to Israel, sources at Cairo airport told AFP.
US president Barack Obama spoke to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, calling for the protection of the embassy, the White House said in a statement.
"The president expressed his great concern about the situation at the embassy, and the security of the Israelis serving there," the statement said.
Hours after the violence broke out, Egyptian soldiers backed by armoured personnel carriers massed near the embassy as power was cut to street lights in several blocks around the mission.
Protesters who clashed with police outside their regional headquarters near the embassy were still playing cat-and-mouse with police throughout the night amid clouds of tear gas.
Earlier, thousands outside the embassy jostled to grab the documents fluttering down from one of the top floors of the high-rise where the embassy is located.
Thousands of protesters had massed in Tahrir Square earlier in the day to demand reforms and an end to military trials of civilians.
After listening to the weekly Muslim prayer, which told Egyptians it was shameful to "forget their revolution," about 1,000 people left the square and marched to the Israeli embassy several kilometres away.
Chanting "Lift your head high, you are an Egyptian," they demolished about half of the security wall outside the mission with sledge-hammers and a hefty metal bar, as military police looked on.
The wall, about two metres high, consists of prefabricated cement slabs recently installed around the building that houses the embassy overlooking a bridge in Cairo.
Motorists on the bridge adjacent honked horns in support as some protesters chanted: "To Jerusalem we will march, one million martyrs!"
A protester clambered up the embassy building and removed the flag, throwing it down to the rapturous crowd below.
Protesters set fire to two police trucks around the embassy building, and pelted anti-riot police with stones, an AFP journalist witnessed.
They grabbed several helmets and shields from police and at least one teargas gun, while others invaded and damaged a small police station in the neighbourhood. Gunfire was later heard in the area.
Relations between Egypt - the first Arab country to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 1979 - and Israel have been particularly tense since August 18, when Israeli troops killed five Egyptian policemen as they chased militants along the border.
That incident followed a series of Negev desert ambushes that killed eight Israelis.
At the time, outraged Egyptians staged huge protests outside the embassy and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador. Egypt has asked Israel for an official apology and demanded a probe into the deaths.
The embassy protest had branched from an earlier Friday's rally in central Cairo for reforms, in which protesters chanted slogans against the military ruler and current de facto head of state, field marshal Hussein Tantawi.
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Interactive map by Matt Barringer, CNN | Content by Kyle Almond, CNN and the CNN Wire Staff