Egypt protests enter 17th day; Govt warns of army intervention

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Al-Jazeera reported that around 20,000 factory workers had stayed away from work across Egypt yesterday.

Those on strike were saying that "they want bettersalaries, they want an end to the disparity in the pay andthey want the 15 per cent increase in pay that was promised tothem by the state," it said, adding that a section of themalso sought Mubarak''s ouster.

Scrambling to find ways out of the crisis, the regimehas set free 34 political prisoners, including members of thebanned Muslim Brotherhood, over the last three days.

Human Rights Watch said that the death toll in theuprising has mounted to 302, with the bulk of fatalitiescoming from Cairo, but Egypt''s health ministry has deniedthese figures.

The US has expressed its complete dissatisfaction overthe steps taken by the Egyptian government to meet the demandsof the pro-democracy protesters and warned that theanti-regime demonstrations are going to grow bigger unlessMubarak takes some concrete steps.

"It is clear that the Egyptian government is going tohave to take some real concrete steps in order to meet thethreshold that the people of Egypt that they represent requirefrom their government," White House Press Secretary RobertGibbs said.

"I think unless, or until that progress takes hold,you''re going to see the continued pictures that all of us arewatching out of Cairo and of over cities throughout Egypt,"Gibbs said.

Meanwhile, Egyptian Culture Minister Gaber Asfour, whowas appointed just nine days ago, has resigned on healthgrounds.

Asfour had been facing criticism from intellectuals forjoining the Mubarak government.

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