Egypt minister: lynchings signal 'death of state'

Associated Press
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Egyptians extinguish a burning police vehicle, which has been set afire by angry protesters in Tahrir Square, once the epicenter of protests against former President Mubarak, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, March 18, 2013. Egypt is currently mired in another wave of protests, clashes and unrest that have plagued the country since the ouster of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in the pro-democracy uprising two years ago. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's justice minister warns the lynching of criminals in the streets by angry citizens signals "the death of the state."

His comments come a day after residents in a northern Nile Delta province killed two men in public after they allegedly stole a motorized rickshaw with a girl inside. Photographs showed the dead men hanging by their feet as thousands watched.

"The application of Islamic justice on outlaws by citizens and the cutting off of roads is one of the signs of the death of the state," Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki told the Turkish Anadolu news agency Monday.

In another sign of deteriorating security, a sword from a statue of the early 19th century Latin American hero Simon Bolivar was stolen near the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy in Cairo.