Egypt forces set to besiege Cairo sit-ins today

Violent clashes between police,protesters possible

Written by Associated Press | Cairo | Published: August 12, 2013 2:16 am

Egyptian security forces will besiege two sit-ins by supporters of the country’s ousted president within 24 hours,police officials said Sunday,setting up a possible confrontation between the military- backed government and the thousands gathered there.

One police official suggested action against the sit-in protests by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi could begin as early as daybreak Monday. Officials,who spoke anonymously in line with regulations,SAID they are also preparing for possible clashes that might erupt in reaction to the cordons they will set up barring anyone from entering.

Morsi’s supporters have said they will not leave the sit-ins until the president,ousted in a popularly supported coup July 3,is reinstated.

Efforts by the international community to end the standoff and find a peaceful resolution to the crisis failed. Egypt’s PM warned that the government’s decision to clear the sit-ins was “irreversible.’’ The Interior Ministry had said earlier it would not clamp down on the protesters but will take gradual measures,which include the cordons.

The protesters,expecting an imminent security push to clear them out,have begun fortifying their positions. At Egypt’s main protest camp in eastern Cairo,vendors say they have sold hundreds of gas masks,goggles and gloves to protesters readying themselves for police tear gas. A few meters (yards) away from the vendors,three waist-high cement and wooden barriers have been constructed by protesters to keep armoured vehicles from crushing the sit-in.

Tensions between Muslims and Christians south of Cairo have been especially high since Morsi’s ouster. On Sunday,15 people were wounded when a Muslim woman tried to stop a Christian neighbour from building a speed bump in front of her home. Officials say both families started fighting and assailants tossed gasoline bombs into four Christian homes .

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