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Nov 25, 3:32 PM EST

Death of man in police custody sparks riots in Egypt

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CAIRO (AP) -- A senior Egyptian police official and witnesses say the death of a man in police custody has sparked riots in the southern Luxor province, wounding four policemen and at least one civilian.

Police Maj. Gen. Essam el-Hamli says Talaat Shabeeb, 45, was arrested late Tuesday for drug possession and died of a "sudden health crisis" early Wednesday.

Shabeeb's cousin, Hassan Said, says his family saw bruises on Shabeeb's body and believes he was beaten to death. The news prompted hundreds to take to the streets in protest, chanting: "The police are thugs!"

El-Hamli says the wounded civilian was hit by "sporadic gunfire" intended to disperse the protest.

Police brutality was one of the main grievances of protesters in the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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