Tahrir Sq protesters protect their barricades against army attempt to remove them

Salma Shukrallah, Saturday 5 Feb 2011

Day 12 of Egypt's revolution opened on a tense standoff between protesters bent on protecting their barricades, and the army attempting to dismantle them

For the first time since the deployment of the army around Cairo's Tahrir Sq. tensions are mounting between them and the protesters, who continued to occupy the square overnight, estimated by Ahram Online correspondent at the site, Salma Shukrallah, at some 5000.

Since early this morning (Saturday) the army moved to remove the extensive barricade the protesters had erected on the northern side of the square since last Wednesday, in order to repel the attacks of "pro-Mubarak" hooligans,

No sooner had protesters detected the army's intentions than, with shouts and whistles, hundreds of their numbers, who had been spread around the enormous square, rushed to the northern edge, surrounding an army bulldozer that had started trying to remove the barricade. A leading Muslim Brotherhood member taking part in the occupation tried to convince the overwhelmingly youthful protesters to allow the army to go on with the dismantling of the barricade but was shouted down.

The standoff continues, with army officers trying to convince the protesters to let them get on with the job they've been ordered to do, but the protesters, fearing that this is an attempt to clear the way so that police forces, and or thugs, would later make another attack on the protest with the aim of emptying the square.

Though yesterday's demonstration, with numbers estimated at over a million people, was another peak of the protest, now entering its 12th day, and despite hints, both from the government and a number of the bodies created by the protest, that a deal is close at hand, the protesters insist they are not leaving the square before Mubarak steps down.

Meanwhile, according to our correspondent, the protesters continue to use their bodies as a protective shield around the barricade, and the army remains bound by its pledge not to use violence against them.

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