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Egyptian army 'ready to intervene'

Egypt's army chief has warned that the military is ready to intervene to stop the nation from entering a "dark tunnel" of internal conflict.

General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is also the defence minister, spoke a week ahead of mass protests planned by opponents of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Egyptians fear the demonstrations calling for Mr Morsi's ousting will descend into violence after some of the president's hard-line supporters vowed to "smash" them. Others declared protesters were infidels who deserve to be killed.

Mr El-Sissi's comments make clear that the military is willing to intervene on the side of the protesters if attacked by the president's Islamist backers.

He urged all parties to use the week leading up to the June 30 protests to reach a "genuine" understanding to defuse the crisis.

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