(Adds new number of deaths, governor statement)
CAIRO, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Four people were killed and several suffered gunshot wounds in clashes between security forces and about 3,000 protesters in a western province of Egypt, the state news agency and security sources said on Wednesday.
The clashes in New Valley, a province that includes an oasis in Egypt’s western desert, erupted on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday, according to the security sources.
It appeared to be the first serious clash between police and protesters since officers all but disappeared from Egyptian streets after they had beaten, teargassed and fired rubber bullets at demonstrators on Jan. 28, dubbed the “Day of Wrath”.
President Hosni Mubarak sent the army onto the streets that night, but several days of looting and lawlessness followed the withdrawal of police, and many prisoners escaped from prison.
The protest in New Valley, about 500 km (300 miles) south of Cairo, was the first sizeable anti-Mubarak gathering in that area reported by security sources. The countrywide protests to topple the president are now in their third week.
New Valley’s governor told MENA that newly appointed Interior Minister Mahmoud Wagdy had decided to sack the head of security in the province following the clashes and ordered an investigation. (Writing by Yasmine Saleh; editing by Mark Trevelyan)