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Army tightens grip on Cairo

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's military moved to tighten its control of key institutions Wednesday, sending troops backed with armored vehicles to the heart of Cairo and slapping a travel ban on President Mohammed Morsi and top allies in preparation for an almost certain push to remove the Islamist president with the expiration of an afternoon deadline.

Just before the military's deadline expired, Morsi repeated a vow not to step down, and one of his top advisers decried that Egypt is experiencing a military coup.

For the second time in 2½ years of political upheaval, the powerful army appears to be positioned to remove the country's leader. But this time, it would be ousting a democratically elected president, the first in Egypt's history — making its move potentially explosive.

Soon after the deadline passed, a military helicopter circled over the anti-Morsi crowds in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, which was transformed into a sea of furiously waving Egyptian flags. "Leave, leave," they chanted to Morsi, electrified as they waited to hear of an army move. After nightfall, fireworks went off and green lasers flashed over the crowd.

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