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CAIRO, August 13 (Itar-Tass) - Egypt’s Interior Ministry on Monday asked Cairenes residing in the area of the Rabia Al-Adawiya Mosque to leave their homes. The local media reported in this connection that the security officials are apparently preparing for the start of the active phase of the operation to free the square from the Islamists protesting there.
According to the Egyptian TV channel On-TV, apartment buildings owners are required to clear the roofs from Muslim Brotherhood supporters, because security forces believe that that’s from where snipers will start shooting at the police. In addition, local residents who cannot temporarily move to other places have been advised to tightly close the windows and doors. According to commentators, this warning is issued in case tear gas is used, and if all of a sudden, which is not ruled out, militant Islamists make attempts to take the houses’ dwellers hostage and use their apartments for firing at security forces. In addition, Cairo residents have been asked to report any suspicious objects near buildings, as well as unknown vehicles in which militants could plant bombs.
Experts believe that if force is used the death toll could reach 10 to 25 percent of all the protesters. The security forces are going to act strictly within the law, which cannot be said not about Islamists: the number of reports about crimes committed by them and their offences is increasing day by day. The last lawlessness case occurred near Rabia Al-Adawiya on Monday - the Muslim Brotherhood supporters cut off a little boy’s fingers because he held a poster with a picture of Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The Interior Ministry has reliable information that those sitting near Rabia Al-Adawiya have various small arms that will be actively used if security forces advance. At the same time, according to the sources, the Islamists will first of all put women and children under the police attack.
Security structures are still hoping for good sense of the protesters and that they will respond to calls to leave the square near the mosque voluntarily before some extraordinary measures are taken. In any case, the main goal at the moment is to block the site of the sit-in and close access to it, as well as to stop the supply of water and food there. Security officials plan to act under the cover of armoured vehicles. It is planned to open a passage for women and children, as well as two passages for men who want to leave the scene of the action. All of them will be checked for carrying arms and possible involvement in the commission of crimes.
According to experts, the police delay with the crackdown on the demonstrators is dictated by two factors - the need to avoid bloodshed and (this factor is prevailing) by further attempts of the Muslim Brotherhood supporters to organize sabotage and wreak havoc all over Egypt. So the security forces and the army are currently trying first of all to “protect the rear” and to ensure safety of those areas of the country where they believe the Islamists will try to take action.
It is not known exactly so far when the security forces will launch the operation - some sources say that it could happen in the next 48 hours, while others suggest that the process of peaceful clearing of the area from the protesters could be dragged on for a period from three weeks to three months.