Egyptian prosecutor encourages civilians to make citizen arrests, stoking fears of vigilantism

A statement by the office of Egypt's top prosecutor encouraging citizens to arrest anyone breaking the law or committing a crime is stoking fears of vigilante groups taking over police duties at a time of growing tension and lawlessness.

The late Sunday statement comes at a time when a large segment of the country's police force is on an unprecedented strike and lawlessness and political turmoil appear to be deepening.

Islamist groups loyal to President Mohammed Morsi have stated their intention to form vigilante groups to take over police duties, a prospect that has given rise to fears of civil strife.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim said Sunday the police oppose the creation of vigilante groups but acknowledged that the force he is in charge of is strained.