Middle East

Egyptian villagers lynch two men

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Media captionImages of a large crowd watching the lynching appeared on the internet

Hundreds of villagers in Egypt have lynched two men for allegedly kidnapping two children and other violent crimes.

The bodies were then hung by the feet from a lamppost in a car park in the centre of the village.

The residents of Mahallat Ziyad in Gharbiya province, north of Cairo, had chased the men through the village.

Security officials said some in the crowd tried to help free the two men but were pushed back by others.

The Egyptian justice minister, Ahmad Mekki, has condemned the lynching and killing.

"People taking the law into their own hands is the death knell of the state," he said.

"It is the state's responsibility to do justice and see that justice is done and provide security for its people," Mr Mekki added.

Security has deteriorated in Egypt in the two years since the revolution which brought an end to President Hosni Mubarak's 29 year rule.

The discredited police force disappeared completely from the streets in many areas during the revolution, and have only partially returned to work.

Some police forces were on strike last week protesting against what they see as the politicisation of the force by President Mohammed Morsi, who came to power in June 2012 as head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

Many Egyptians have formed what they call 'popular committees' to protect their areas. Many carry clubs or knives and occasionally firearms.

There have been 12 cases of lynching since 2011, in which 17 people have been killed, three of them in the past month alone.

Photographs of the men lynched in Mahallat Ziyad have been circulating on social media websites. Both men were unemployed, one was aged 20 years, the other 25.

The photographs show one of the bodies with deep, bloody lacerations covering his back. From the front, one of the men's faces is completely covered in blood.

Other pictures showed both stripped down to their underwear, hanging by their feet, bruised, cut and bleeding.

Mamdooh al-Munir, a local spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood said that the lynching followed a spate of rapes in the area.

He said there had been a number of incidents in the last few months of girls being abducted on their way home from school.