Human Rights Watch says killings were planned at highest levels of government and calls for senior leaders to be probed.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has reshuffled his Cabinet and replaced the minister in charge of the nation’s police, state media reported.
New ministers have been sworn in on Thursday for the ministries of culture, tourism, agriculture, communications, vocational education and training, higher education, and residence.
Officials said Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was replaced by another police general, Magdy Abdel-Ghafar.
Ibrahim was among the top Egyptian officials that Human Rights Watch urged to be probed for “crimes against humanity” over deadly 2013 clashes between security forces and protesters in the country.
An audio recording obtained by Al Jazeera last month suggested that Ibrahim gave the green light for using automatic weapons against protesters.
Ibrahim’s removal comes after an uptick in bomb attacks blamed on armed groups targeting the heart of the heavily protected Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Yehia Ghanem, a well-known Egyptian journalist and resident fellow at New York’s City University, told Al Jazeera that “the main objective of such a reshuffle is to calm down segments of society angry over eroding security and flagrant violations of human rights”.
He also said the fact the reshuffle came just a few days before the country’s major economic investment conference showed that Sisi believed political change was needed urgently.
“The situation in Egypt is getting more critical, because if it was not that critical no sane person would make that reshuffle just days before that very important conference on rehabilitating the Egyptian economy,” he said.
It is the first cabinet reshuffle since Sisi, a solider-turned-politician, took office in June. A year ago he led the military ouster of the Mohamed Morsi, the nation’s first freely-elected leader.