The Egyptian interior minister has said daily protests, clashes and harsh media criticism have strained the nation's police forces.

Mohammed Ibrahim also dismissed a strike by policemen as minor and warned against what he called plots to cause the disintegration of the force, saying he will not allow vigilante groups to replace the police.

"From the minister to the youngest recruit in the force, we will not accept to have militias in Egypt,'' Ibrahim said on Sunday. "That will be only when we are totally dead, finished.''

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His declaration followed a statement by a group that its members would take up policing duties in the southern province of Assiut because of strikes by local security forces.

Legislators have raised the possibility of legalising private security companies, granting them the right to arrest and detain.

Near daily clashes between police battling protesters denouncing Mohammed Morsi, the president, killed at least 10 people last week in different parts of Egypt.

Hundreds of police officers went on strike over complaints about working conditions and allegations that the country's government is trying to infuse the force with supporters, dragging it into the country's highly polarised politics.

"There are groups of policemen on strike. I understand them. They are protesting the pressure they are under, the attacks from the media,'' the minister said. "They work in hard conditions and exert everything they can and are not met with appreciation or thanks.''

Ibrahim said the strike is minor and is not affecting the capabilities of the force.

"I only ask all [political] forces to leave the police out of the political equation and the conflict that is taking place,'' he said.

Source: Agencies