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Egyptian police delay eviction of pro-Morsi camps

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-12

Egyptian protests calling for the reinstatement of deposed president Mohammed Morsi at sit-ins in Cairo continued Monday, as police delayed a planned operation to tackle the two sprawling tent cities.

Supporters of ousted president Mohammed Morsi urged Egyptians to take to the streets on Monday to foil any police crackdown on two Cairo protest camps, a day after the government warned that a “gradual” break-up of the sit-ins was imminent.

Reporting from Egypt’s capital, FRANCE24 correspondent Kathryn Stapley said that security forces did not launch their operation at dawn as expected.

“There has been no sign of any extra police or army activity at either the Rabaa sit-in near Nasr City or the Nahda sit-in near Cairo University, and this despite Egyptian security officials saying yesterday that police will besiege these two camps”, said Stapley.

Besieging pro-Morsi camps

A security source told the Reuters news agency that action against the protesters had been delayed because larger crowds had arrived at the protest camps after news broke that a crackdown was imminent.

Stapley said Egyptian authorities have vowed to lay siege rather than immediately physically remove the sprawling tent cities in order to minimise casualties.

“They say they’re going to put the sit-ins under siege. They’ll let the people out, but they won’t let them back in again. And they are not going to allow in supplies, things like foods and drinks. Then warnings will be issued to the protesters to clear the area. And after that, security forces will likely use water cannons, tear gas, and sound guns to try to get people to leave”, said Stapley.

“State of emergency”

Morsi loyalists sporting hard hats and sticks continued on Monday to man makeshift barricades at the Rabaa and Nahda protest camps as they braced for a fresh crackdown. Muslim Brotherhood officials and camp residents have repeatedly said that they were determined to withstand any blockade.

“The sit-ins leaders have called for a state of emergency, they’ve also set up fortifications to repel any advance from security forces (…)The organisers have also called doctors, paramedics, and nurses to be on stand by to help the injured should there be an attack”, reported FRANCE 24's Stapley.

Almost 300 people have been killed in political violence since Morsi’s overthrow in a military coup on July 3 - most of them Morsi supporters shot dead by security forces in two incidents near the Raaba sit-in.

Egypt has been gripped by political and economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule by US-backed president Hosni Mubarak; and the most populous Arab nation is now more polarised than ever.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-12

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