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In Cairo, the additional forces were deployed to military facilities in the suburbs and outlying districts. Army troops are also moving to reinforce police guarding the city’s prisons to prevent a repeat of the nearly half dozen jail breaks during the chaos of the 2011 uprising.
The opposition is demanding Morsi’s ouster, saying he has lost his legitimacy through a series of missteps and authoritarian policies. They say early presidential elections should be held within six months of his ouster.
Hard-line Islamists loyal to Morsi have repeatedly vowed to "smash" the protesters, arguing that they were a front for loyalists of Hosni Mubarak, the autocrat ousted in Egypt’s 2011 revolt, determined to undermine Morsi’s rule. They also say that Morsi is a freely elected president who must serve out his four-year term before he can be replaced in an election.
Many Egyptians fear the new round of unrest could trigger a collapse in law and order similar to the one that occurred during the 2011 revolt. Already, residents in some of the residential compounds and neighborhoods to the west of the city are reporting gunmen showing up to demand protection money or risk being robbed.
The police, who have yet to fully take back the streets after they disappeared in unclear circumstances in 2011, have stepped up patrols on the outskirts of the city, ostensibly to prevent weapons and ammunition from coming into the city to be used in the case of an outbreak of violence. The army is advertising hotlines for civilians to call if they run into trouble.
In the latest reminder of the near lawlessness that has plagued the Sinai Peninsula bordering Gaza and Israel since the 2011 revolt, a senior security official officer was assassinated Saturday in the coastal city of el-Arish as he arrived home from work. Police Brig. Mohammed Tolbah was instantly killed and his driver seriously injured.
Associated Press writer Maggie Michael contributed to this report.
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