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Egypt

Egypt braced for biggest protests yet

Protesters gather early in Tahrir Square in Cairo, 1 February 2011.
Protesters gather early in Tahrir Square in Cairo, 1 February 2011. Reuters/Suhaib Salem

Egypt is gearing up for massive protests on Tuesday, after opponents of President Hosni Mubarak called for a "march of a million" and an indefinite general strike. Early reports suggest there were more than 10,000 protesters in central Cairo by Tuesday morning, many of them having defied a curfew to camp overnight in Tahrir Square.

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The march is due to start at 11 am. Another rally is planned in Alexandria.

If organisers succeed in their goal of bringing millions onto the streets, it will be the biggest show of opposition yet.

National train services have been cancelled since Monday afternoon, in what could be an attempt to prevent people reaching the rallies.

Internet access is now entirely blocked. Egypt's last working internet service provider, the Noor Group, went down late on Monday, according to US web monitor Renesys.

Google has announced a special service to allow Egyptians to post messages to microblogging site Twitter without using the web. Users can dial a phone number to leave a voicemail that will be converted into text and posted under the tag #Egypt.

The Egyptian army has pledged not to use force against protesters.

Meanwhile efforts to negotiate a resolution to the unrest continue. The US has sent its former ambassador, Frank Wisner, to Cairo for meetings with senior officials. It's not yet known whether he'll meet President Mubarak directly, though State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley told the New York Times that it would be "useful" to have the beleaguered leader's perspective.

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