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Tara Todras-Whitehill, Associated Press
An injured protester, center, is aided by others during clashes with Egyptian riot police, not pictured, near Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011. Egyptian police are clashing with anti-government protesters for a fifth day in Cairo. Tens of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square have rejected a promise by Egypt's military ruler to speed up a presidential election to the first half of next year. They want Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to step down immediately in favor of an interim civilian council.

CAIRO — Police and protesters demanding that Egypt's ruling military council step down are observing a truce after five days of deadly street battles in which at least 40 people have died.

Egypt's military also issued a statement on Thursday apologizing for the loss of life and vowing to bring to justice those responsible for the deaths of protesters in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square and elsewhere in the country.

Army troops have used metal bars and barbed wire to build barricades to separate the protesters and the police on side streets leading from Tahrir to the nearby Interior Ministry. Most of the fighting has been taking place on those side streets.

The truce came into force around 6 a.m. and was still holding by late morning.