CAIRO -- Egypt's interior minister, Mansour al-Essawy, couldn't have made himself any clearer. Anyone who attempts to break into the Interior Ministry will be shot, Al-Essawy said in an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The Interior Minister's comments come on the heels of a Sept. 9 attack by protestors on the Israeli Embassy in Giza. Demonstrators also gathered near the Saudi Embassy and Giza Security Directorate, hurling stones at the security forces inside.
Al-Essawy said he will not allow police stations to be broken into and gave instructions to the Giza security chief to use live ammunition in the event that the Directorate headquarters is breached.
He also responded to an investigative report published last week by Al-Masry Al-Youm that found that during the 18-day revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the Interior Ministry - then headed by Habib al-Adly - used snipers to kill protesters. Al-Essawy said that the ministry does not have a sniper department, but that some officers from its various departments have taken a sniper training course, which is organized in coordination with the armed forces. Over the past 40 years, nearly 1,400 officers have taken the course, al-Essawy said.
During the uprising in January, fires were set off at several police stations, which the Interior Ministry had blamed on "thugs." Some critics, however, say the fires were part of a conspiracy by the authorities to create chaos and sabotage the revolution.
In his interview, Al-Essawy challenged claims that upwards of 1 million people participated in the Tahrir square revolution. The Interior Minister noted that the total surface area of the square and surrounding streets is 100,000 square meters, which can accommodate a maximum of between 300,000 and 400,000 protesters. The number of protesters who assembled in Tahrir on Jan. 28 - dubbed the "Friday of Anger" - was 200,000 to 300,000, he said.
Al-Essawy also said that the Ministrys headquarters was evacuated on Jan. 30 and added that if he were there on that day, he would not have left the building. He said he would have fired at anyone who entered the building, since he is a policeman who is aware of his rights and duties.
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Photo - RamyRaoof