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Morsi supporters continue protests despite looming crackdown

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have continued to stage sit-ins in Cairo after police said they would clear out protest camps. Meanwhile the judiciary has extended Morsi's detention by 15 days.

Protesters vowed to remain at the camps on Monday, saying their sit-ins in the northeast and south of the Egyptian capital would remain until Morsi was reinstated. Security officials had said the day before that police would start to move into the camps as early as Monday morning, but they have so far held off. Police were expected to blockade the sit-ins and use water cannon to break up the camps.

Threats of a face-off have heightened tensions between Egypt's ruling security apparatus and the Muslim Brotherhood party, which has organized continual demonstrations since Morsi was removed from power by the military on July 3.

Morsi has been held in an undisclosed location since July 26. On Monday a judicial official said the judiciary was extending his detention period for a further 15 days as investigations continue.

Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, is accused of conspiring with Palestinian militants during the country's 2011 uprising.

Judge Hassan Samir chose to extend Morsi's decision while looking into allegations that he colluded with Islamist group Hamas to break out of prison alongside 33 other Muslim Brotherhood members in 2011, the official said. He was speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk the media.

Protesters decry government crackdown

Western and Arab envoys have pressured the military-appointed government to avoid using force to clamp down on protests. Weeks of international mediation efforts to diffuse the political crisis in Egypt have, however, proven fruitless.

More than 250 people have been killed in nearly six weeks of clashes between security forces and Morsi supporters.

Protest leaders say the government is using excessive force, blaming security forces and "thugs" for the bloodshed, which includes two separate instances where dozens of Morsi supporters were shot dead.

Government officials have repeatedly called for the protests to end their sit-ins and have promised the Brotherhood a role in the country's new government. But the Brotherhood sees it differently, saying that the group has been the target of an unfair crackdown.

A number of senior Brotherhood leaders have been sentenced to jail on charges of inciting violence and TV channels seen as sympathetic to the Morsi have been shut down.

"We want to send a message to the coup leaders: the Egyptian people insist on continuing its revolution … And the people will insist on turning out in all squares," senior Brotherhood official Farid Ismail told a news conference.

Morsi came to power in June 2012, but concern he was consolidating power and cracking down on dissent prompted mass rallies calling on him to leave. Large turnout at protests called for two weeks ago by the head of the military, Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, indicated that there is still large support in Egypt for the coup that removed Morsi from office.

dr, ccp/hc (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)