AFP – Thirty-six Egyptian Islamist prisoners killed on Sunday during an attempted prison break died after suffocating on tear gas, the interior ministry said in a statement.
“Thirty-six of the prisoners died of suffocation and crowding after tear gas was used to stop their escape,” the ministry said.
The official MENA news agency reported that “unknown gunmen” had tried to aid the prisoners, who kidnapped a police officer.
Earlier, the interior ministry said the inmates rioted while they were being transferred to the north Cairo prison of Abu Zaabal, and that police were “dealing with the situation”.
The Brotherhood-led Anti-Coup Alliance, which is pressing for the reinstatement of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, accused police of killing the prisoners as they were being moved.
“The Anti-Coup Alliance obtained evidence of the assassination of at least 38 anti-coup detainees in a truck transferring them to Abu Zaabal prison today,” the group said in a statement.
“They were reportedly assassinated in their truck with live ammunition and tear gas fired from windows.”
A MENA said later that trucks carrying 612 prisoners came under attack by armed men, and “a number of prisoners” were killed in ensuing clashes.
Police and the military sent reinforcements around the prison, the news agency reported.