Interior Ministry in flames amid police protests

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By Tamim Elyan

CAIRO:A fire broke out Tuesday around 4 pm in at least seven floors of the communication buildings in the west wing of the Ministry of Interior complex in Downtown Cairo.

Earlier, hundreds of low ranking policemen had staged protests demanding better pay as well as the return of former interim minister Mahmoud Wagdy.

A Daily News Egypt reporter at the scene said that more than 10 fire trucks were deployed to extinguish the fire as black smoke billowed from the top two floors.

Although there were rumors that the protesters had started the fire by throwing Molotov cocktails at the building, one policeman protesting at the scene denied the claim, stressing that the fire came from inside the building.

“I saw several policemen carrying jerry cans of petrol and car tires into the building through a side entrance,” one protester told DNE, denying that they started the fire. “Even if we did throw Molotov cocktails, how would they reach the top floors?”

Low ranking policemen staged nationwide protests demanding the resignation of recently-appointed Minister of Interior Mansour El-Essawy who replaced Wagdy, better pay and an end to military prosecutions.

“I have been on the force for 14 years and all I make is LE 700 a month, they promised an increase in incentives but nothing happened, we want at least LE 1,200,” said Mohamed Ali, one of the protesters.

“El-Essawy isn’t sympathetic with us but Wagdy helped us restore our rights. That’s why we want him back,” he added.

They also demanded an end to military prosecutions of low ranking policemen except in honor crimes like bribery.

“We will not leave until our demands are met,” said Sayed Abdel A’al.

The protests started in front of the ministry then moved towards the cabinet building where the protesters blocked the road, angering motorists and hindering traffic.

The road was cleared upon military intervention and protesters returned to the ministry.

Fire trucks arrived on the scene and eventually put out the blaze. (Daily News Egypt Photo / Hassan Ibrahim)

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