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Despite Army's Pleas, Cairo Protesters Dig In

CAIRO - The Egyptian military on Saturday came up against angry pro-democracy protesters in an attempt to persuade them to move burnt cars and human barricades from the streets leading to Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, where thousands continued to call for President Hosni Mubarak's departure.

The protesters set up human barricades around Tahrir, or Liberation, Square to prevent pro-Mubarak supporters from disrupting their pro-democracy demonstrations.

Fierce clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak supporters earlier in the week left at least 11 killed and hundreds injured.

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A group of military officers arrived in Abdel Moneam Riyadh square, leading to Tahrir Square, to talk to the pro-democracy protesters and convince them to take down the barricades.

However, the protesters were reluctant to give up their positions since they say the military did not move to protect unarmed civilians in Tahrir as they were being attacked by stone-throwing Mubarak supporters earlier in the week.

Rumors also circulated in the square that the military - which has surrounded Tahrir for days - was preparing to withdraw, so some protesters lay on the ground in front of tanks to prevent them.

An Army general addressed protesters, trying to convince them to end their demonstration, but the crowd was unmoved.

General Abdel Meneem Khalil, head of the army's central command, urged demonstrators to leave the square, they chanted back, "We are not leaving. He [Mubarak] is leaving."

The protesters see the military as a degree of protection from the police and the regime's supporters who they fear will attack again, though the government promised on Friday not to try to eject the protesters by force.

The situation between army and protesters appeared peaceful.

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