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Mosque at center of Egypt protests secured

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Story highlights

NEW: Al-Fateh mosque has been secured and cleared

Government: 'We are facing war waged by extreme forces'

More protesters leave mosque as security forces escort a group of women

State TV reports more than 1,000 Muslim Brotherhood members arrested

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Cairo CNN —  

Egyptian forces secured and cleared a Cairo mosque that had become the epicenter of Saturday’s confrontations between protesters and the military, interior ministry spokesman Hani Abdel-Latif said.

Hundreds of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsy had been holed up in the Al-Fateh mosque in central Cairo since overnight.

Without food or medical supplies, but fearful of reprisals if they walked out, the protesters earlier rebuffed the military’s request for them to clear the building. The situation escalated as security forces fired at the mosque’s minaret, claiming there were snipers firing at them.

In the end, the security forces were successful in securing the place.

The clashes at the mosque had threatened to pull Egypt into another day of widespread violence on Saturday.

Political unrest preceded the military coup that ousted Morsy, and his supporters have held massive rallies against the interim government and its supporters.

Both sides blame each other for instigating violence.

“We are not facing a political struggle,” interim presidential adviser Mustapha Higazi said. “We are facing war waged by extreme forces.”

The spokesman referred to the protesters as terrorists and warned that “what we see in the streets will not be accepted.”