Tanks returned to the streets of Cairo today as the army gave supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi until 3pm to leave the area outside the presidential palace.
The military stepped in following the worst night of violence since the Muslim Brotherhood leader's election.
At least five people were killed and over 600 injured as Brotherhood followers and secular protesters fought with rocks and firebombs.
Most demonstrators from either side had left the area by the deadline, though a few remained.
Republican Guard commander Major General Mohammed Zaki, who was in charge of the tanks and armoured vehicles surrounding the palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district, sought to reassure citizens that the military was neither taking sides nor making a bid for power.
Suspicions of the army are rife as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled the country for over a year following the overthrow of former dictator Hosni Mubarak and appeared to relinquish power only reluctantly.
"The troops will not be a tool to crush the protesters and no force will be used against Egyptians," Gen Zaki said.
Protests have raged in the two weeks since Mr Morsi assumed near-absolute powers in what he says is a temporary measure to ensure the judiciary - still packed with Mubarak appointees - cannot derail the country's transition to democracy.
But critics say he is setting himself up as a new despot and fear he plans to rush through an Islamist constitution that would ride roughshod over the rights of women, religious minorities and secular organisations.
Opposition groups staged a peaceful sit-in outside the presidential palace last week but things turned violent when the Muslim Brotherhood called on its members to "defend legitimacy" and drive them out.
Brotherhood supporters remained defiant today. "I don't want Morsi to back down," demonstrator Khaled Omar told reporters. "We are defending Islam."
Another, Ezzedin Khoudir, accused secular groups of being in league with Mubarak-era diehards.
"They want to take power in a coup," he said. "They are conspiring against Morsi and we want him to crack down on them. There must be arrests."
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