- Middle East/North Africa
Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin denied policemen were involved in shooting protesters with birdshot near the ministry, saying police only use tear gas to separate demonstrators and hold them back.
Health Ministry reports said that many of the dozens injured in clashes between security forces near the Interior Ministry and protesters were caused by birdshot. The encounters that broke out last Monday followed demonstrations commemorating the death of more than 40 in clashes near Mohamed Mahmoud Street last November.
In an interview with state-run newspaper Al-Ahram published Monday, Gamal Eddin said that, unlike wounds sustained by police, birdshot injuries sustained by protesters reveal they had been shot from close range. He claimed this meant the firing came from the demonstrations, not police.
The minister said Gaber Salah, an April 6 Youth Movement member who was pronounced dead Sunday, bore signs of birdshot injuries received from close range, despite the long distance between him and security forces during the demonstrations.
“The Interior Ministry had asked the Public Prosecution to search the scene of events and to inquire about the weaponry used by police forces so as to avoid false accusations to security forces,” he said. “Prosecutors had visited the area, but did not make any notes.”
“The [police] forces are the victims here,” the minister argued.
Gamal Eddin added that police have been deterring attacks on the Interior Ministry and the Shura Council.
He put forth that the security performance is faring well in general, but added that events in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas give the impression of a security void.
“We do not confront peaceful protests,” he claimed, adding that his ministry’s role is to secure important facilities.