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Egypt defence minister visits protesters

News18

Updated: February 4, 2011, 6:04 PM IST
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Egypt defence minister visits protesters
Egyptian Defence Minister and senior army officials visited Tahrir square to meet protesters.

Cairo: Egyptian Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi and senior army officials visited Tahrir square Friday morning to meet pro-democracy protesters, in what looks as a sign that Egypt's most powerful institution is sanctioning a demonstration, which thousands hope will lead to President Hosni Mubarak's departure.

Protesters welcomed him chanting "Marshal, we are your sons for liberation!"

The Egyptian military was guarding thousands of protesters pouring into Cairo's main square on Friday in an attempt to drive out Mubarak after a week and half of pro-democracy demonstrations.

The atmosphere was calm after two days of battles between pro- and anti-Mubarak crowds battling with rains of stones broken out of the street and shields fashioned out of sheet metal from a construction site.

According to one demonstrator in Tahrir square, Tantawi was trying to calm things down.

"Marshal Tantawi was trying to talk to the people and tell them that this is against Egypt, but the people have decided that this man Hosni should leave," the young man told the AP Television.

"We are not going to accept anything else," he added.

On Friday morning, human chains of protesters performed secondary searches inside Tahrir Square.

Many of those arriving brought fresh bread, water, fruit and other supplies, and the atmosphere was relaxed.

Long lines formed at tables of people handing out tea and bread.

Around the square were makeshift clinics, set up in the entranceways of stores, including a KFC.

The pro-Mubarak crowds that have attacked demonstrators and foreign journalists did not have a visible presence.

First Published: February 4, 2011, 6:04 PM IST
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