CAIRO (AP) — Scores of Cairo residents protested on Tuesday after an Egyptian police officer shot and killed a street vendor and wounded two others, according to state media and a senior police officer.
It was the latest in a series of similar incidents that have triggered public outrage over what rights activists say is police abuse.
Brig. Gen. Hesham Amer, police chief of the New Cairo district east of the Egyptian capital, said three policemen argued with the street vendor over the price of a cup of tea inside a sprawling residential compound in the area.
One of the officers then shot the vendor and two other people. The vendor was instantly killed. The official MENA news agency later quoted an unnamed security official as saying that Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar has referred the policeman to the prosecutor's office.
Photos and video clips circulated on social networking sites from the protest rally show angry crowds chanting "police are thugs," and smashing a police car and an ambulance as they blocked a road in the aftermath of the shooting. The body of the dead vendor was seen lying in the street. Police sealed the area and deployed riot squads to disperse the crowd.
Human rights groups say a culture of impunity among the Egyptian security forces has led to widespread police brutality. Trials of offending policemen are rare and when they do occur, sentences are usually appealed and subsequently reduced.
Earlier this month, a policeman was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of killing a 24-year-old taxi driver in February.
Allegations of abuse by police were among the main causes behind the 2011 uprising that toppled the longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
In a separate development, an Italian security team arrived in Cairo on Tuesday to review with Egyptian counterparts the latest in the case of an Italian student who was found dead by a roadside in Cairo in February with signs of severe torture, according to security officials at Cairo's international airport. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.
Italy has said it was prepared to take "immediate and proportional measures" against Egypt if it fails to provide all the information it has about the torture and death of doctoral student Giulio Regeni, who disappeared in Cairo on Jan. 25, the fifth anniversary of Egypt's 2011 uprising when police were out in force to prevent any demonstrations.
Italy earlier this month recalled its ambassador from Egypt for consultations after Italian investigators expressed disappointment over Egypt's cooperation in the investigation.
Egypt has repeatedly denied involvement by its security services in Regeni's killing.
This story has been corrected to show that Regeni's body was found in February, not last month.