updated 1/3/2006 11:16:15 AM ET 2006-01-03T16:16:15

Egypt will deport 654 Sudanese refugees who were violently evicted from a protest camp in a Cairo park last week, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday.

They will be flown home Thursday because “they were either found to be illegal immigrants or refugees who had violated security conditions,” spokeswoman Fatma el-Zahraa Etman told The Associated Press.

On Friday, thousands of riot police using water cannons and truncheons cleared a ramshackle Sudanese refugee camp, and security officials said at least 20 refugees died in the melee. Protest leaders said 26 were killed.

The violence capped a night in which authorities intermittently conducted last-ditch negotiations and sprayed squatters with jets of water before launching the assault to end the three-month protest at the camp.

Hundreds of Sudanese have been living in the park since September to protest the U.N. refugee agency’s refusal to consider them for refugee status. They want to be resettled in a third country, such as the United States or Britain, rather than go home after a peace deal ended the 21-year-long civil war in Sudan.

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