UPDATE 1-Egypt military orders demonstrators away from palace

Thu Dec 6, 2012 7:14am EST

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CAIRO Dec 6 (Reuters) - Egypt's Republican Guard, which deployed around the presidential palace on Thursday, said demonstrators must evacuate the area by 3 p.m. (1300 GMT), the presidency said in a statement.

Opponents of President Mohamed Mursi and his Islamist supporters clashed on Wednesday night and Thursday morning during rival demonstrations sparked by Mursi's decision last month to expand his powers.

A Reuters witness said some of the hundreds of Mursi backers who had camped overnight around the palace perimeter had started leaving before the deadline.

In its statement, the Republican Guard said that following "unfortunate events" around the palace it was "banning the gathering of any demonstrations in the vicinity of establishments belonging to the president of the republic".

Several tanks and armoured personnel carriers had been placed around the palace on Thursday morning and barbed wire barricades erected across a major road leading to the palace to separate the two sides. Other barriers had also been erected.

Opponents of Mursi on the spot had earlier said that more protesters would arrive in the afternoon. There was a brief spate of stone throwing mid-morning on Thursday but the scene had otherwise been calm for hours.

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