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Egypt loses last vestiges of connectivity

Country braced for massive protests

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Thousands of Egyptians ignored the government curfew and camped out overnight ahead of today's "million-man march" protests.

The government meanwhile has tightened its grip on communications - Noor Group, which provided connectivity for the Cairo stock exchange, five star hotels and other businesses has had its internet access cut off.

Noor Group escaped last week's shutdown of most internet access and mobile phone coverage.

The Renesys blog has the details of the final switch-off.

The government switched off services in the wake of several days of angry protests against Hosni Mubarak's government. The government has also arrested several al-Jazeera reporters - the broadcaster has clearly irritated some with its coverage.

Demonstrators' resolve was strengthened by a statement from the Egyptian army, which pledged not to use violence against protestors and guaranteed freedom of expression for everyone.

The Army called on people not to vandalise public or private property but said: "The Armed Forces is aware of the legitimate demands of the honourable citizens."

The government has not limited itself to shutting down virtual communications - the railways were closed until further notice on Monday. Coach services and road access have all been closed or access restricted to try and stop demonstrators getting to Cairo.

Egyptian papers described a festival, family atmosphere among the varied protestors in the capital's main squares.

Mubarak's cabinet reshuffle seems unlikely to satisfy protestors' desire for real change.

The full army statement is here. ®

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