Egyptian air force fighter planes buzzed low over Cairo, helicopters hovered above and extra troop trucks appeared in a central square where protesters were demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s rule.
It was the latest show of military might on Sunday in an apparent effort to send protesters back to their homes before a curfew. Mubarak held talks with top military commanders earlier in the day, state media reported.
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 towards the square as more protesters gathered in defiance of the curfew, Reuters reports.
Tanks have been posted in the square since Friday when the army was sent to the streets to take control after days of unrest and anti-government demonstrations.
“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 said. “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, Defence Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami al-Anan and other commanders at a military headquarters. 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 defence 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.