Amnesty International said a number of political activists who have been arbitrarily detained in Egypt's notorious Tora Prison have started a hunger strike to protest the harsh conditions and ill treatment they are enduring.
The rights watchdog said on Twitter that those taking part include Ahmed Douma, Hisham Fouad and Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who also called for authorities to release them.
After declaring their hunger strike in Tora Prison on 2 March, they were physically assaulted by detainees affiliated with the prison authorities under the prison administration's supervision and the responsible national security officer inside the prison, who witnessed the assault, they told their families and lawyers.
Egyptian parliamentary and security sources said that circles close to the regime have conveyed direct messages to the Prisons Authority to deal firmly with political detainees who announce hunger strikes inside prisons and detention centres and not to respond to any of their demands related to improving their conditions.
A source told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news site that "many circles close to it [the regime] fear the strike could extend to other prisoners" which could cause external pressure on the regime which has been seeking to win international economic institutions' approval in order to secure loans in order to face one of the most serious crises it has faced since seizing power in 2013.