Archive photo of Egyptian police standing guard (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's Cabinet extended its condolences to the families of the victims, who were killed in a Sinai attack by unidentified assailants early Monday, and called upon all factions to steer away from violence.
In a statement on Monday, the Cabinet said that militants fired rockets at two Central Security Forces (CSF) vehicles in the Abu Taweila area near the Rafah Road in Al-Arish city, North Sinai. The attack left 25 security forces dead and 3 injured.
A photo of the victims circulating online showed them plain-clothed, lined beside each other on the side of the road, their hands tied behind their backs and blood beneath them.
The statement also gave an account of the death of 36 detainees at Abu Zaabal Prison on Sunday evening.
It said that militants "attempted to help 612 Muslim Brotherhood detainees escape as they were being transferred to Abu Zaabal Prison." The detainees are serving a 15-day detention order pending investigations into their alleged involvement in recent violence.
These unidentified militants "abducted a security officer," the Cabinet said in the statement, adding that security forces "dealt with the attackers, which led to deaths and injuries."
The interior ministry in a statement on Sunday said that the detainees had been killed by asphyxiation due to teargas and “crowding” in the melee.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Ahmed Aref claimed that his group "does not rule out that this massacre of Egyptians [in Sinai] is to cover up the serious and glaring development of targeting and killing Egyptians at the prison."
The Cabinet asserted that implementing the law on everyone alike is the "only way out of the current crisis and chaos caused by conflicting news."
On Saturday, the interior ministry announced it had arrested 1,004 Muslim Brotherhood “elements” on Friday, when large demonstrations were held demanding Morsi’s return to power and condemning the dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins on Wednesday.
Official health ministry figures say the death toll has reached at least 800 deaths since Wednesday’s violence.
The interior ministry has started a wave of arrests of prominent Islamist figures in several governorates, including Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.