Two senior police officials say security forces involved in the dispersal of an Islamist sit-in a year ago were assured beforehand they would not be prosecuted for any deaths in the operation.

The Aug. 14, 2013 dispersal of the sit-in by supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi left at least 624 people dead. Eight policemen were killed by gunmen during the assault.

The two officials, who hold the rank of general in the Interior Ministry, which heads the police, told the AP that police were told to expect protesters to have weapons and should swiftly move to eliminate them.

The police involved in the dispersal were told "they will not be subjected to prosecution later on," one general said. The generals spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the preparations.