Egyptian army on the streets ahead of protests
Egyptian troops deployed Wednesday in Cairo and other cities ahead of protests planned by the opposition later this week to demand that Islamist President Mohammed Morsi step down, dpa reported.
The largely secular opposition accuses Morsi of failing to fulfil the objectives of the revolution that brought him to power. Morsi's supporters have vowed that he will complete his four-year term, which ends in 2016.
Supporters and opponents of Morsi have, in recent months, held rival rallies that have occasionally descended into deadly clashes.
Armoured carriers were positioned around the Central Bank headquarters and soldiers were also seen around the Media Production City on the outskirts of the capital, a seat of Egypt's privately owned broadcast media.
Egypt's Islamists have accused private satellite channels of bias and the Media Production City was subjected to repeated blockades by Islamist demonstrators in recent months.
State-run newspaper al-Ahram reported quoted military sources as saying the move was "the most eloquent reply to the systematic campaign to terrorize the people," in a reference to recent statements by hardline Islamists.
Al-Ahram reported that troops were also concentrated in areas around Egypt's second city, Alexandria, on the country's Mediterranean coast.
The elite Republican Guard meanwhile placed barricades around the presidential palace in eastern Cairo where protesters plan to gather on Sunday to demand Morsi step down and call early presidential elections.
Morsi, who belongs to the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, was due to address the nation Wednesday evening.
Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi warned last week that the military is prepared to intervene if the country's political tensions flare out of control.
Activists from the Tamarrod, or Rebellion, campaign, have said they reached their target of 15 million signatures calling for Morsi's ouster, a year after he won the country's first free presidential elections with 13.2 million votes.
Cairo has been in the past few days hit by traffic gridlock as drivers seek to stock up on fuel. Panic buying ahead of Sunday's protests has apparently worsened existing fuel shortages.