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Police need better arms, says minister of interior

Attack on Al-Wafd Party headquarters sparks call for heightened security response

Security forces stationed outside the Dokki police station in anticipation of a march by supporters of Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. (DNE/ Hassan Ibrahim)

Minister of Interior Ahmed Gamal Al-Din has suggested that police need to be better armed to respond to the current security environment.

 Al-Din made the comment in a meeting Saturday following the violent attack on Al-Wafd newspaper and party headquarters Saturday, in which its entrance was set alight causing damage to parked cars.

The meeting concluded that the current security situation necessitates a stricter strategy, reported state-owned news agency MENA. This could include better arming police tasked with protecting vital institutions or facing incidents of violence where firearms are used.

“When facing peaceful protests, police forces would be armed with batons, shields and teargas,” a security source within the Ministry of Interior who preferred to remain anonymous, said. He added that such weapons are not sufficient when facing violent incidents.

In a statement released about the Saturday attacks, the ministry said one police officer sustained birdshot wounds to the face. Five members of the Central Security Forces also suffered burns, bruises and broken bones, the ministry added.

Human rights lawyer Amir Salem said the answer to the security problem doesn’t lie with further arming the police or increasing police numbers.

“Do the police exercise their role according to the law, caring only about serving the people?” Salem questioned, “or do they only answer to the president’s orders?”

Salem said the police stand by while “militias” in the streets kill and injure people, even though they have the necessary arms to face such violence. He stressed the need for the police to take the people’s side against “armed Islamist militias.”

The director of Giza Investigations Authority, Kamal El-Daly, claimed it was supporters of Abu Ismail who attacked Al-Wafd Party and newspaper. El-Daly added that the attackers belong to the same group that besieged the Popular Current earlier the same day, MENA reported.

Abu Ismail called for the dismissal of the minister of interior Saturday night, denying that the attackers of Al-Wafd were members of his presidential campaign.

The Ministry of Interior denied statements attributed to Gamal Al-Din claiming that the presidency is preventing the police from arresting Abu Ismail.

Additional reporting by Fady Salah

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