(dpa) - Tension prevailed in Egypt's textile town of Mahalla al-Kubra after two days of clashes between protestors and police in which a boy died of wounds and at least 200 people were injured, security sources said Tuesday.
Some 180 people have been arrested after clashes broke out for the second straight day on Monday, leaving some 60 people injured, the sources said.
A 15-year-old boy, Ahmed Hamada, died of wounds suffered when he was shot by police during the clashes, according to the sources.
Families of the detainees, many of whom are textile workers, have gathered outside the main police centre in the town, 100 kilometres north of Cairo, to demand the release of their relatives, witnesses said.
The town's open air Tuesday market was not held as vendors feared another outbreak of violence and looting, local sources said.
Acts of looting and vandalism were committed during the riots.
Two school, banks, cars and shops were burnt, police said.
The Egyptian Ministry of the Interior accused thugs of inciting people to violence in Mahalla.
"Citizens from all walks of life abstained from responding to calls to strike and protests. Some professional thugs and riot instigators intentionally incited to violence and called to protests," a statement issued by the ministry said.
But local politicians and workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) hired thugs to wreak havoc during protests and tarnish the workers' image.
Some of those offenders are known to the police and were previously used by NDP candidates during the last legislative elections in 2005, the politicians and workers said.
The riots, which started on Sunday, were sparked by police thwarting a planned strike by textile workers to demand pay hikes.
The planned industrial action at the state-owned Mist Spinning and Weaving firm in Mahalla was to be to the centrepiece in a day of nationwide protests over price rises and poor pay launched by Egyptian political activists.
Egypt's poor have been badly hit by cheap bread shortages and price rises, while wages have hardly changed.
Elsewhere in the country, political activists and members of the opposition Kifaya movement, who were arrested over the last two days, have been released after questioning by prosecutors.
Only 23 activists remained in detention.
The call to a nationwide strike was started in Mahalla, but spread by bloggers, mainly on FaceBook, and by text messages, e-mail and word of mouth.
Bloggers, who were arrested after Sunday's strike, have been released, an Egyptian journalist, who took part in the FaceBook campaign, told dpa.
"Some 66,000 activists took part in the call to civil disobedience on FaceBook alone, making the website into a kind of political party," the journalist said.