Tahrir Square youths end sit-in, military council offers thanks

Mubarak taken to intensive care unit during questioning

Prince Saud al-Faisal meets military council in Cairo

Safwat al-Sherif, Fathi Sorour remanded under 15-day custody for investigation

Soldiers and police moved into Cairo's main square to end a five-day sit-in by protesters demanding civilian rule and swifter prosecution of Egypt's former president and his allies.

A Reuters photographer saw hundreds of soldiers in the middle of Tahrir Square and in military vehicles at every entrance to the normally busy thoroughfare, which the demonstrators had closed to traffic using barbed wire.

Troops with machineguns rounded up several young men and pushed them into vans. Others hauled the coils of barbed wire and makeshift barriers erected during the protest onto military trucks, while men toured the sprawling square picking up debris.

By early evening, traffic was flowing through Tahrir, a major junction and the focus of the 18-day uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak on February 11.

A youth coalition that helped organize the uprising said it had persuaded the remaining protesters to reopen Tahrir because they were doing the country no good by staying.

"We met with the (ruling) military council and discussed opening Tahrir. We agreed to end the protest and give the army a chance to proceed," said Mohamed Sukri, a member of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition.

"The military council thanks the youth of the January revolution for returning Tahrir Square to normal," it said in a statement.

Protester Mohamed Zaidan, who said he belonged to no group and was still in the square when the army arrived, gave a different account.

"We didn't agree with anyone to clear Tahrir," said the 25-year-old Zaidan.

"We were attacked by rock-throwing people who wanted to force us out and then the army came, didn't speak to us and suddenly moved in to force us out of the square."

Some Cairo residents had voiced exasperation at the Tahrir protesters as hundreds of thousands turned out to maintain pressure for change on Egypt's army rulers and demand that Mubarak stand trial for corruption.

The former leader said that accusations of wrongdoing against him and his family were "lies."

The army tried to clear hundreds of protesters from the square last week, drawing criticism from rights groups who accused the military of excessive force.

Meanwhile, ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak went into intensive care in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, shortly after suffering a heart attack during questioning by prosecutors, state media reported.

"Former president Hosni Mubarak went into intensive care at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital after suffering a heart attack," the official MENA agency said.

Prosecutors had begun questioning Mubarak and his son Gamal, Justice Minister Abdel Aziz al-Guindi was quoted as saying by MENA.

"But the questioning over acquiring wealth illegally has not yet started as that will be handled by the department of illicit gains," Guindi said.

Earlier, a security official said that both sons, Alaa and Gamal were being questioned in the south Sinai capital of al-Tor, but headed back south to Sharm el-Sheikh after hearing their father had gone into intensive care.

Mubarak went into hospital at 5:00 pm (1500 GMT) in the Red Sea resort where he has been living with his family since nationwide protests forced him to step down in February.

State television reported that Mubarak had refused to eat or drink since he received news that he was to be questioned.

Public Prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud ordered the inquiry, as part of a sweeping probe into corruption and abuse.

Nationwide protests that erupted on January 25 forced Mubarak to give up his 30-year grip on power and hand the reins to a military council.

"Mubarak was admitted to the Sharm el-Sheikh International Hospital this afternoon, amid a very heavy security presence in the town," a security source told AFP.

He was admitted by his bodyguards to the VIP wing of the hospital, state television reported, adding that the hospital was not accepting any patients except for emergency cases.

Police cars and ambulances surrounded the hospital, as well as a heavy military police presence, the television said.

The former president was dressed in a black and white track suit, a witness said.

Asked if Mubarak was in good health, hospital director Mohammed Fathallah replied: "Somewhat."

The state-owned daily Al-Ahram, citing sources in Sharm el-Sheikh, said on its website that Mubarak had gone to hospital "under the pretext of being unwell in order to avoid facing questioning."

The Mubaraks were to be asked about allegations that they were "connected to the crimes of assault against protesters, leading to deaths and injuries," the official MENA news agency said.

The riots, which saw repeated clashes between protesters, and police and Mubarak loyalists, left an estimated 800 people dead and more than 6,000 injured.

The former president was also to be quizzed about allegations of graft, MENA added.

The prosecutor's summons came after the broadcast of an audio tape in which Mubarak defended his reputation and after weeks of mounting protests calling for him to be put on trial.

In the audio message aired on the pan-Arab television network Al-Arabiya, Mubarak complained he was the victim of a smear campaign.

He pledged his assistance in a probe of his family's foreign assets, but his defiance in threatening lawsuits against the media angered Egyptians who have been pressing for his trial.

After he resigned, Mubarak and his family moved to a residence in Sharm el-Sheikh. Although he is subject to a travel ban, his relative freedom has been a thorn in the side of the military rulers.

Weekly protests demanding his trial have attracted tens of thousands and eventually led to a deadly clash with soldiers after they tried to clear an overnight demonstration in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

The military acknowledged that one person died from a gunshot wound but denied it used force or live ammunition to disperse the protesters.

Idolized as a savior at the beginning of the revolt because it refused to crack down on protesters, the army has faced increasing criticism for stalling on reforms, not putting Mubarak in the dock and alleged human rights abuses.

On the other hand, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal held talks with senior Egyptian officials during a brief visit to Cairo that lasted several hours.

Saudi and Egyptian state news agencies did not disclose the content of the talks with al-Faisal, who left Cairo shortly after arriving.

According to the state-owned news agency MENA, al-Faisal and his accompanying delegation arrived by private jet. The agency reported that the talks revolved around "cooperation between the two countries and various regional and global events."

Local reports previously indicated that had Saudi Arabia threatened to withdraw its investments in Egypt and expel Egyptian workers in Saudi Arabia if the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) put former President Hosni Mubarak on trial.

Press reports indicated that the alleged pressure from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states stems from their loyalty to Mubarak, who has good relationships with the leaders of those countries.

Public Prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud issued subpoenas for Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, for investigation into corruption charges and accusations that the former president was involved in the killing of pro-democracy protesters.

Egypt's public prosecutor ordered that Safwat al-Sherif, former head of the upper house of parliament, be detained for 15 days as part of a probe into accusations of graft, the state news agency MENA said.

A special panel formed to uncover illicit gains also ordered Fathi Sorour, former speaker of the lower house of parliament, be remanded under 15-day investigative custody for questioning over accusations he had amassed large amounts of money illegally, MENA reported.

Sherif and Sorour were senior members of former President Hosni Mubarak's ruling party and among his closest aides.

Both are main targets of reformers seeking tough action against figures of the past administration.

The panel, chaired by senior justice ministry official Essam el-Gawahri, has been investigating a string of businessmen and former officials and summoned Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal for questioning.

Sherif, who was taken to Torah Prison in southern Cairo, was accused of "exploiting a public position for his own benefit and the benefit of his family, which led to their accumulating large wealth," MENA quoted a panel member as saying.