Egypt's state news agency says the prosecutor general has ordered a four-day detention for 24 activists detained while protesting a newly passed law criminalizing demonstrations without permits.

MENA also says the prosecutor on Wednesday issued arrest warrants for two leading activists accused of inciting demonstrators. He also released more than 10 female protesters. Witnesses say the women were released in the desert in the middle of the night.

On Tuesday, security forces used water cannons to break up the demonstration outside Cairo's upper house of parliament, where protesters denounced a proposed constitutional amendment allowing military courts to try civilians.

Many observers said police behavior was reminiscent of the days former President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's longtime autocrat ousted in 2011.