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Africa North
Egypt protesters breach palace barricade as Morsi supporters mass
[Dawn] Thousands of protesters breached a barricade outside the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo on Tuesday, as even more supporters of President Mohamed Morsi massed just a few kilometres (miles) away.

There were fears the rival rallies could mix, sparking festivities like those seen outside the palace last week, when seven people were killed and hundreds injured in a melee between mobs wielding metal bars, petrol bombs and handguns.

Troops have orders from the president to use police powers to protect "vital state institutions".

Morsi is determined to press ahead with a referendum next Saturday on a controversial draft constitution drawn up by a panel dominated by his Islamic allies and bitterly opposed by his mainly secular opponents.

There was no immediate violent confrontation as anti-Morsi protesters pulled apart a high metal gate and toppled concrete blocks, forcing hundreds of soldiers to pull back closer to the walled presidential palace compound where six tanks were stationed.

At the counter-demonstration, the huge crowd held up banners saying: "Yes to the constitution," and waved Saudi and black Islamic flags as well as the national emblem.

"There's a war against religion," said one participant, Mohamed Shehata.

"We must vote yes for the referendum as it is the best written constitution in our history," said Ahmed Youssef, a council member of the fundamentalist Gamaa Islamiya party.

Many of the pro-referendum demonstrators were bussed in from the provinces, AFP correspondents reported.

The military has vowed to carry out its duty to maintain stability within democratic rules.
Posted by:Fred