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Egypt's Police To Clear Pro-Morsi Camps
Egyptian police are expected to clear protest camps supporting the country's ousted president in Cairo within 24 hours.
In a move which could trigger more violence and bloodshed, security and government sources said action against the sit-ins could start by daybreak on Monday.
The camps are the main flashpoints in the confrontation between the army, which toppled Mohamed Morsi last month, and supporters who demand his reinstatement.
Western and Arab mediators and some members of the Egyptian government have been trying to persuade the army to avoid using force to disperse the protesters, who at times can number as many as tens of thousands.
But Army chief General Abdel Fattah al Sisi, who toppled Mr Morsi, has come under pressure from hardline military officers to move against the protesters, security sources say.
Almost 300 people have been killed in political violence since the overthrow, including dozens of supporters shot dead by security forces in two incidents.
Any further violence would almost certainly deepen Egypt's political crisis and keep the government from dealing with vital issues such as the fragile economy.
"State security troops will be deployed around the sit-ins by dawn as a start of procedures that will eventually lead to a dispersal," said a senior security source, adding that the first step will be to surround the camps.
Another security source said the decision to take action, just after celebrations following the holy month of Ramadan, came after a meeting between the interior minister and his aides.
Mr Morsi's supporters, mainly from his Muslim Brotherhood, have turned the camps into something resembling fortresses.
Sandbags and piles of big rocks have been set up all over.
Guards with sticks wear motorcycle helmets in anticipation of a raid that would require security forces to crack down in a heavily congested area that includes children.
Egyptian authorities have warned the protesters to leave the camps or face the consequences.