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Egyptian policeman kills vendor over cup of tea

The interior ministry confirmed that the shooting of a street vendor by a policeman was over the price of a cup of tea
Egyptians gather at the site where a policeman shot and killed a street vendor on Tuesday on the eastern outskirts of Cairo (AFP)

An Egyptian policeman shot three people, killing one of them, on a Cairo street after an argument, official state media said on Tuesday. 

Witnesses and videos circulated on social media and also local press claimed that the argument was over the price of a cup of tea.

“This because of a cup of tea that costs one pound!” shouted one man, crouched over a large bloody spot belonging to the victim on the ground. “He was shot in the back and the chest. I swear to God this is oppression!”

A security official said the officer involved was arrested after dozens of bystanders protested at the scene of the shooting in an eastern suburb of the capital, chanting: "The police are thugs."

The interior ministry posted a statement on its Facebook page about the shootings, identifying the policeman who fired the shots as Zeinhem Abdel Razzaq.

"During a police patrol a dispute broke out between the officer and the seller over the price," the ministry said in a statement.

"The policeman opened fire, killing the vendor and wounding two passers-by."

The incident occured in the Rehab City, an eastern district of New Cairo city. An angry crowd later smashed the police vehicle that Abdel Razzaq drove, with only his partner inside the car. Abdel Razzaq was later arrested. 

The general prosecution has said that the policeman was accompanied by two of his peers and that warrants for their arrests had been issued. 

Translation: The teapot and the tea vendor's place, who was shot by a policeman

Egypt's police have been on the defensive after rights groups denounced alleged widespread torture and deaths in detention, as well as arbitrary arrests and the forced disappearances of government opponents.

The alleged abuses are reminiscent for many Egyptians of those perpetrated by police under the rule of longtime president Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in 2011 partly as a result of public outrage over impunity for security services.

Earlier this month, an Egyptian court sentenced a policeman to life in prison for shooting dead a taxi driver over a fare dispute.

Mohamed Ali Sayed Ismail was shot dead by the policeman over a fare dispute on 18 February in Cairo, leading to disturbances and calls for action against police abuses.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would ask parliament to amend the law to toughen sanctions for police abuses after the February killing.

Thousands of doctors held a protest earlier this year against the police after officers allegedly assaulted two doctors in a hospital.

Several policemen have been detained for violence against prisoners and some have been sentenced to jail in the past year.