Egyptian security forces have fired volleys of tear gas and used batons to disperse stone-throwing protesters in central Cairo denouncing a series of arrests connected to a new law against street demonstrations.

Private TV stations showed riot police with shields and helmets chasing protesters amid a thick cloud of gas. The Saturday demonstration was held to condemn the detention of 24 activists.

Traffic came to a halt, shops closed and residents ran in panic in Cairo's Abdeen neighborhood where the clashes took place.

Egyptian activists are angered by a new law that puts tough new restrictions on protests.

Among Saturday's protesters was Ahmed Maher, leader of the April 6 youth group that had a leading role in the 2011 uprising against longtime president Hosni Mubarak.