CAIRO — Egyptian police fired tear gas on Sunday in an attempt to free a guard from rioting detainees, killing at least 36 as the country’s military leader vowed to no longer tolerate violence after days of clashes that killed more than 800.
The deaths of the prisoners, captured during the fierce fighting in recent days around Cairo’s Ramses Square, occurred as Gen. Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi called for the inclusion of Islamists in the government. Meanwhile, security forces detained Muslim Brotherhood members in raids aimed at stopping more planned rallies supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsy — which the military-backed government says fuels the violent unrest.
The suspects killed were part of a prison truck convoy of about 600 detainees heading to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Egypt, security officials said. Detainees in one of the trucks rioted and managed to capture a police officer inside, the officials said, Security forces fired tear gas into the truck in hopes of freeing the badly beaten officer, the officials said. The officials said those killed died from suffocating on the gas.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
However, the officials’ version contradicted reports about the incident carried by state media. The official website of Egyptian state television reported that the deaths took place after security forces clashed with militants near the prison and detainees came under fire while trying to escape.