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Egyptian soldiers show solidarity with protesters, activist ElBaradei joins demonstrations
On Saturday, protesters and soldiers worked together to hold off police.
"The army has to side with us," ElBaradei said during the broadcast Sunday. "I don't think the army will turn on the people. The army is very much on the peoples side. The army is in an impossible situation."
He acknowledged how volatile the situation has become, adding that somebody "gave the order to the police to disband," which promoted the looting by "thugs" in the streets.
The police had enacted a severe crackdown on demonstrators last week, until Friday night, when the army was called out and the police receded. Unlike the police, the army has allowed demonstrations to go forward and has not enforced what had been a strict government curfew.
Dozens of tanks lined major roadways, and military helicopters and fighter jets made their first appearances Sunday afternoon, flying low across the Cairo skyline. It was not immediately clear why air power had been dispatched.
The U.S. Embassy in Egypt on Sunday recommended that Americans leave the country as soon as possible and was assisting citizens. Other nations, including China, France, Germany, Belgium and Russia, have warned or advised their citizens against travel to Egypt, and some nations have flown in additional flights to evacuate their citizens, the Associated Press reported.
With uniformed police virtually absent from Cairo's streets, the soldiers and residents cooperated to provide security. But residents - particularly those in upscale neighborhoods in and around the city - said they had been terrorized Saturday night by marauding bands of looters armed with knives, clubs and guns. Residents said they were bracing for more Sunday night, and the army encouraged all Egyptians to arm themselves in self-defense.
Reports circulated across the city that thousands of criminals had escaped from a high-security prison just outside Cairo. Egyptians, however, said they believed the police had deliberately allowed the prisoners to flee.
"As Nero burned Rome, the government is trying to burn Egypt," said bookstore owner Aza al-Hadary, 63. "It's a dirty plan. Mubarak is in a corner and he doesn't want to leave."
Evidence of a possible rift between the army and the police appeared to gain credence when state television announced that Mubarak had met with the nation's military leadership and Suleiman. Significantly, the interior minister was not mentioned.
Throughout the day Sunday, rumors ran rampant. At one point just before dusk in Tahrir Square, a report circulated within the crowd that Mubarak had resigned the presidency and fled the country. Almost as one, thousands of people began to jump up and down in triumph, shouting, "He's gone!" Atop tanks, soldiers and protesters embraced.
But just as quickly as the news had spread, a second rumor - this one apparently true - emerged: Mubarak was still the president. The crowd quieted.