The governorate of Marsa Matruh witnessed clashes Tuesday, as police forces simultaneously battled an attempt to break into the police station and the looting of confiscated cars.
Clashes erupted after a military court convicted two Bedouins of smuggling cigarettes from Libya, each were sentenced to six months in prison. Families of the convicted rallied outside the police station, attempting to set them free.
The fighting was resolved after the Matruh military governor reduced the sentences to one month in prison, stated Al-Dostour Party member Khaled Gheith, who was present during the clashes.
According to state-owned Al-Ahram at least 46 injuries resulted from the clashes, among both the rallying civilians and the police. It reported that the police avoided firing live ammunition despite the attackers’ use of automatic rifles and birdshot.
A member of 6 April (Ahmed Maher front), Ahmed Zakaria, said that 52 were injured as a result of the clashes. Zakaria and Gheith both said that at least two people were shot with live ammunition by the police.
Zakaria said: “The police tried to disperse the rally using birdshot and teargas.” He added that police forces only resorted to the use of live ammunition when the rally drew nearer the police station.
“They had all the right to use live ammunition to stop the rally from breaking into the police station,” Zakaria said.
Gheith added that live ammunition was fired in the air and near the ground, causing no serious injuries. He said that Salafi front members managed to create a buffer zone between the rally and the police.
Taking advantage of the chaos, a group of looters raided part of the station where cars confiscated by the police are kept. In all 39 cars and 17 motorcycles were looted from the police station, an official at the Matruh Security Directorate told Al-Ahram.
Gheith said: “At least 90% of the confiscated cars were looted.”
Security reinforcements from Alexandria arrived to Marsa Matruh late Tuesday night to help contain the security situation. Gheith stated the looting had stopped by the time the reinforcements arrived.