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    Egyptian army blocks roads to square at center of Cairo protests

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    The Egyptian army is blocking the roads leading to Cairo's central Tahrir Square where tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

    The Egyptian army is blocking the roads leading to Cairo's central Tahrir Square where tens of thousands of demonstrators have gathered to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

    About 200,000 protesters have come to the square to take part in the demonstration, which is seen as a major challenge to Mubarak's 30-year rule. The opposition predicted the protest would gather up to a million people.

    Police officers checked people arriving at the square amid fears of possible unrest.

    Mubarak supporters also organized on Tuesday a demonstration in central Cairo, which involved about 100 people carrying placards supporting the veteran president and chanting "We are for reform, but against destruction."

    There have been no clashes between opposition demonstrators and Mubarak supporters reported so far. The latter have so far refrained from large-scale demonstrations despite the fact that the ruling party has some 3.5 million members.

    Egypt has been engulfed in violent protests against Mubarak's rule since January 25. The riots that swept through Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian cities have already claimed the lives of about 150 people, with another 4,000 reported injured.

    The Egyptian army, which both Mubarak and protesters have laid their hopes on to help resolve the situation in the country, has vowed not to fire on protesters even if it is ordered to.

    In a statement quoted by the state-run Mena news agency, the military said it respected the "legitimate rights of the people."

    "The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and well-being. The armed forces will not resort to the use of force against our great people," it said.

    Mubarak formed a new cabinet on Monday, but the move has done little to appease the demonstrators, who demand the president's resignation as the only thing that could ease tensions.

    CAIRO, February 1 (RIA Novosti)

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