Egyptian authorities plan to besiege sit-in protest camps filled with supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi, state television reported Friday, a step toward clearing areas that loyalists say they’ll defend until their leader is returned to power.
A security cordon around the two Cairo sit-in sites raises the possibility of more violence in Egypt, still roiled a month after a military coup backed by popular support overthrew Morsi. Protesters armed with sticks and makeshift body armor already stand guard there behind walls of sandbags, tires and bricks.
The state TV broadcast said a cordon of security forces and vehicles will encircle the sit-in sites within 48 hours. The report said authorities will let people leave without officials inspecting their identities or arresting them. However, security forces will not allow anyone else into the protests, enacting a blockade on areas that have drawn thousands nightly.
On Thursday, Egypt’s government offered protection and “safe passage” to those willing to voluntarily leave the protest camp, as it announced it was taking “measures” to end the protests. The government made its pledge a day after the military-backed government gave orders to police to end what it described as