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EGYPT: Military jets buzz protesters

January 30, 2011 | 12:40 pm

Egyptian air force fighter planes buzzed low over Cairo on Sunday, helicopters hovered above, and extra troop trucks appeared in a central square where protesters were demanding an end to the regime of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, 82.

CNN reported that the Egyptian F-16 fighter jets circled low over defiant protesters gathering in the square. CNN's Ivan Watson said the jets were so low, he could see the planes' cockpits from the ground.

A Reuters witness saw at least three jets fly over Tahrir Square. The warplanes flew over the city several times. At least a dozen troop trucks and extra tanks drove toward the square as more protesters gathered in defiance of the curfew.

When the fighter planes flew overhead, some shouted, "Long live the army." Others in Tahrir shouted: "We will not go, he will go, Hosni is going mad."

"The planes are out there to scare the people. It's time for the curfew, and no one is going home," a 45-year-old engineer who was protesting in the main Tahrir Square told Reuters. "It's clear to me that the army is here to protect Mubarak."

Earlier in the day, Mubarak met newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami al-Anan and other commanders at a military headquarters.

The defense minister was shown on state television reviewing army units based outside the state broadcasting building.

"Egypt depends on you now," Tantawi said to one soldier, patting him on the shoulders.

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-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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