The protesters have refused to end their sit-in, which they started on Sunday, to support two lawyers who they claim were assaulted by police during a demonstration last Friday.

"Down with the prosecutor office. Down with the law of the jungle. End torture of the detainees," the lawyers shouted, refusing to move after a police officer tried to mediate with the group on Monday.

The two lawyers obtained medical reports affirming their injuries and took their complaint to the public prosecutor, demanding the offending police officers be investigated, but their complaint was dismissed.

Some hundreds of Beduin men and women gathered in the main square of al-Arish, some 350km northeast of Cairo, last Friday to call for the release of relatives detained in the wake of bombings in the nearby resort town of Taba last year that killed 34 people.

Human rights reaction

Human rights groups claim Egyptian authorities have arrested some 2400 people in the wake of the bombing, but the government has never revealed how many people it has in custody.

Thirty-four people were killed in
the Hilton Taba bombing

Egyptian authorities have released some detainees, but Human Rights Watch said last month the government had yet to release the detainees' names, their locations, or whether they had been charged.

The human rights organisation also accused police of torturing some of the detainees related to attacks, the first significant terror incident in the country since 1997.

Egyptian security forces engaged in shootouts with armed groups in the Sinai hills last month, killing three suspects. The government has said that five others implicated in the bombings are in custody.