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Fire Put Out at Egypt's Interior Ministry


Flames engulf part of the Interior Ministry complex in Cairo, Egypt, March 22, 2011

Flames engulf part of the Interior Ministry complex in Cairo, Egypt, March 22, 2011

A fire that broke out Tuesday at the Interior Ministry in Cairo has been extinguished.

A police officer at the scene said it began in a documents storage area on the sixth floor and later spread to a criminal evidence building.

Egyptian officials blame protesting police officers as being responsible for the fire but the cause is unclear.

There has been a history of suspicious fires in Cairo that were allegedly set to cover up thefts or to get rid of evidence.

Television footage showed black plumes of smoke rising from a building in the ministry complex as firefighters used water hoses to get the blaze under control.

Thousands of police officers had been protesting outside the ministry, demanding better pay and working conditions.

A member of the police force quoted by the French news agency AFP says the protesters had nothing to do with the fire.

Police have staged public protests since an interim government took over following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

In February, officials said former police officers demanding reinstatement hurled firebombs at the interior ministry and set several vehicles on fire.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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