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Since Tuesday, protesters have been reporting that government thugs, NDP party thugs, have been acting initially as provocateurs and now as looters. There were widespread reports Thursday night for example that plain clothes police were spreading petrol on cars and otherwise preparing chaos.

Now the reports of thugs breaking into homes, hospitals and threatening neighborhoods are increasing.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin is reporting that thugs in one neighborhood were seized and found to have state security id and carrying state issued weapons. The same pattern was seen in Tunisia. He notes that these are Mubarak’s police but in plain clothes.

As he says, with the police off the streets – they know there is no one to keep order and so they are taking advantage – and “attempting to steal away the momentum of the protests.:

7:38pm Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said “party thugs” associated with the Egyptian regime’s Central Security Services – in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons – have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number.

If Mubarak and the NDP can generate enough chaos and frighten the more affluent portions of the populace, they provide an excuse and rationale for a brutal crackdown.

Al Masry Al Moum reports

Protesters have been attempting to organize popular committees in endangered areas in order to secure neighborhoods. ..

In the Maadi district of Cairo, residents living next to the Carrefour shopping mall–which was looted on Friday–told Al-Masry Al-Youm by phone that they saw thugs approaching their buildings.

Similar reports were relayed from the Mohandessin area in Cairo, where thugs reportedly attacked houses.

In the affluent quarter of the Fifth Settlement to the east of Cairo, residents also reported thugs cordoning their buildings and threatening to break in. Six armored vehicles have been deployed in the neighborhood, according to eyewitnesses.

Note that the reports all reference “thugs” – these are not protesters and the people in the neighborhoods seem to be well aware of who it is who is sowing chaos and danger.

In Alexandria people have poured onto the street chanting again against Mubarak and Suleiman.

Just now, ElBaradei made a statement pointing to Mubarak’s refusal to step down as the cause of the chaos and then said:

“Unless Mobarak steps down, Egypt will collapse today…We are seeking a change of regime. President Mubarak should step down. We should head towards a democratic state through a new government and free democratic elections…The whole world should realize that the Egyptians are not going home until their demands are realized…We are talking about taking down the Pharaonic dictatorship.”

How soon with Clinton and Obama issue another strongly worded “concern” about how Mubarak needs to “reform?”