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Egyptian state could collapse, says army chief

CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's army chief warned Tuesday that the state could collapse if the latest political crisis roiling the nation drags on but also defended the right of people to protest.

Troops deployed in the two riot-torn Suez Canal cities of Port Said and Suez stood by and watched Monday night as thousands took to the streets in direct defiance of a night curfew and a state of emergency declared by the president a day earlier. Residents of those two cities and Ismailiya, a third city also the emergency, marched through the streets just as the curfew came into force at 9 p.m.

The display of contempt for the president's decision was tantamount to an outright rebellion that many worried could spread to other parts of the country. Already, protesters across much of Egypt are battling police, cutting off roads and railway lines, and besieging government offices and police stations as part of a growing revolt against the rule of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group.

At least 60 people have been killed since Friday.

Morsi's opponents protest that Islamists have monopolized power and not lived up to the ideals of the pro-democracy uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago.

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