Middle East

Egypt: Fire at interior ministry after police protest

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Media captionThe fire ripped through a building in the Egyptian Interior Ministry

A fire which broke out in a building in the Egyptian interior ministry compound in Cairo has now been extinguished, eyewitnesses say.

It came after a protest outside the building by about 3,000 police demanding better pay and conditions.

The cause of the fire, in the building housing the personnel department, is not yet known.

Last month, police set fire to the same building after demanding thousands of officers be reinstated.

Widespread strikes and labour-related protests have broken out since longtime President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last month after 18 days of demonstrations.

Fear of prosecution

Earlier, the military had cordoned off the building to keep protesters at a distance.

The demonstrators carried placards reading: "Where is social justice for policemen?" and "We want the cancellation of military trials", the Reuters news agency reports. Some police fear they will face prosecution for abuses committed during the Mubarak era, Reuters says.

Essam Issa, one of the police officers taking part in Tuesday's protest, told the AFP news agency: "They will blame us, but we had nothing to do with it."

The building was in the same compound as the offices of the hated secret police, which were disbanded earlier this month.

Two weeks ago, protesters stormed secret police buildings in several cities after rumours that officials were shredding documents in an attempt to destroy evidence of past abuses.