Last updated: 16 February, 2013

Egypt to arm low ranking policemen after protests

Egypt will arm low ranking policemen with pistols, a security source said on Saturday, after they held protests demanding weapons and better work conditions amid a spike in violent crime.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim agreed to import 100,000 pistols, the source said, after almost a week of protests by policemen.

Egyptian police officers and some conscripts are equipped with side arms and sometimes assault rifles, but the lowest ranking policemen are unarmed.

Crime spiralled in Egypt after an uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, leaving the reviled interior ministry in tatters.

About 30 policemen died during the 18-day uprising, in which police stations were torched, and at least 138 have been killed since, according to ministry figures released in January.

On Saturday, police and civilian mourners at the funeral of a police captain who died the previous night in a gunfight, badly beat a man they believed was involved in the shooting, witnesses said.

Footage on Youtube showed pistol wielding men holding the bloodied suspect on a pick up truck, in the province of Beni Suef, south of Cairo.

The governor of Beni Suef, Maher Beibers, told the Egyptian ONTV channel that he was later taken to hospital, from where he escaped.