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Deadly police shooting sparks Egypt protests

February 19, 2016

A police officer has killed a young taxi driver "by mistake," according to Egypt's Interior Ministry. The incident comes amid increasingly frequent protests against police excesses, a key contributor to 2011's uprising.

Millions of Egyptians rose up against police brutality under Mubarak's regime in 2011
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/A. Sayed

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Cairo's security directorate on Thursday night after a police officer dressed in civilian clothes shot and killed a 24-year-old taxi driver.

"Hundreds marched from Cairo's security directorate to Ahmed Maher Hospital, where the corpse of a young Mohamed Ali - a victim of police - is [located]," Omar Elhady, an Egyptian journalist, wrote in a tweet accompanied by a video of the demonstration.

Mohamed Ali, known as "Darbaka," was shot by the police officer "by mistake," according to the Egyptian Interior Ministry.

"A low-ranking policeman was accompanying his relative to buy some goods and when both were uploading goods to a taxi, they had a fight with the taxi driver," said Cairo's security directorate, according to the state-owned al-Ahram news site.

"The policeman pulled out his gun to end the fight but a bullet came out by mistake, killing the taxi driver," the Interior Ministry's statement added.

'Shot him in the head'

Reports differ as to whether the officer was apprehended, with some local news sites suggesting he may have been killed by the neighborhood's residents who witnessed the altercation.

"He took out his weapon and loaded it," a local resident told Egypt's independent news site Mada Masr. "We intervened to restrain him and tried to break up the fight, but he was able to break loose and immediately shot him in the head."

Last week, thousands of doctors gathered in protest of police who beat two doctors for refusing to falsify medical records.

The protests come as Italian officials announced that an autopsy of graduate student Giulio Regeni's body showed signs of torture, including electrocution. Activists said Regeni's injuries had the hallmarks of Egyptian security services.

In January 2011, millions took to the streets of Cairo and other cities across Egypt to protest police excesses under former President Hosni Mubarak's regime, resulting in his ouster.

ls/cmk (Reuters, Ahram)