Many associated the Interior Ministry with Egypt's now disbanded state security agency [Reuters]

 

Fire has swept through a building inside Egypt's Interior Ministry compound during demonstrations by police over pay and working conditions.

Flames and black smoke could be seen rising from the seven-story building which has been a focal point for protests since Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's former president, was toppled last month.

Ambulances and fire engines raced to the building but there were no reports of casualties.

A ministry source told the Reuters news agency the fire was likely linked to the demonstrations, attended by about 3,000 people according to witnesses.

But some accused ministry officials of starting the fire to destroy incriminating documents.

"This is a movie sequel, like when state security shredded papers that would put them in trouble," Abdullah Abdel Rahim, a witness who said he had been standing in front of the building at the time, told Reuters. "These are remnants of men abusing the protest to burn their papers."

Oussama Mohammed, another witness, said: "I saw the protesters they were standing peacefully. Nobody was doing anything and all of a sudden I saw explosion of fire at the roof top.

Many Egyptians associated the Interior Ministry with the hated state security agency, now disbanded, whose reputation for brutality helped ignite the revolt against Mubarak.

Source: Agencies