CAIRO -- Egypt's Interior Ministry offered a rare expression of regret Saturday after riot police were caught on camera a day earlier beating a protester who had been stripped of his clothes, and then dragging the naked man along the muddy pavement before bundling him into a police van.

The video of the beating, which took place late Friday only blocks from the presidential palace where protests were raging in the streets, further inflamed popular anger with security forces just as several thousand anti-government demonstrators marched on the palace again on Saturday. The uprising that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011 was fueled in part by anger over police brutality.

In the footage aired live on Egyptian TV, at least seven black-clad riot police used sticks to beat 48-year-old Hamada Saber, who was sprawled out on the ground, shirtless and with his pants down around his ankles.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry voiced its "regret" about the assault, and vowed to investigate. But it also sought to distance itself – and the police in general – from the abuse, saying it "was carried out by individuals that do not represent in any way the doctrine of all policemen who direct their efforts to protecting the security and stability of the nation and sacrifice their lives to protect civilians."

Later in the day, however, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim put the blame elsewhere entirely, saying initial results from the public prosecutor's investigation indicated that Saber was undressed by "rioters" during skirmishes between police and protesters.

"The Central Security Forces then found him lying on the ground and tried to put him in an armored vehicle, though the way in which they did that was excessive," Ibrahim said.

President Mohammed Morsi's office called Saber's beating "shocking", but stressed that violence and vandalism of government property is unacceptable.

The abuse took place as thousands of protesters chanted against President Mohammed Morsi on Friday. The march was part of a wave of demonstrations that have rocked Egypt since last week's second anniversary of the 2011 revolt, leaving more than 60 people dead and plunging the country into turmoil once again.

In what appeared to be an effort to protect the police from a harsh backlash over the video, Ibrahim said that nearly 400 policemen have been wounded this past week in clashes, and warned that the disintegration of police will lead to even wider-spread chaos in the Arab world's most populous nation.

"The collapse of police will affect Egypt and transform it into a militia state like some neighboring nations," Ibrahim said, alluding to Libya where militias comprise the bulk of security after that nation's uprising.

Already some Islamists have warned they could set up militias to protect their interests, while a group calling itself "Black Bloc" whose followers wear black masks claim to defend protesters opposed to the Islamist president's rule.

Rights groups have accused Morsi of not taking steps to reform the Interior Ministry, which was the backbone of Mubarak's regime. Police under Mubarak were notorious for using excessive force against protesters and beating those in custody.

In a defining image of post-Mubarak violence against protesters, Egyptians were outraged last year when military police were caught on camera dragging a veiled woman through the streets during a protest, pulling her conservative black robe over her head and revealing her blue bra.

Protesters and rights groups have accused police of using excessive force this past week during a wave of mass demonstrations in cities around the country called by opposition politicians, trying to wrest concessions from Morsi.

But many protesters go further, saying Morsi must be removed from office. They are accusing his Muslim Brotherhood of monopolizing power and of failing to deal with the country's mounting woes. Many have been further angered by Morsi's praise of the security forces after the high death toll. Some have taken to attacking government buildings, from prisons to police stations to courthouses.

The chaos prompted Morsi to order a limited curfew in three provinces and the deployment of the military to the streets.

The main opposition National Salvation Front said Saturday that the "gruesome images" of Saber's beating demand the interior minister's resignation.

Also Saturday, Prime Minister Hisham Kandil visited Cairo's Tahrir Square and the area around the presidential palace. He said those who are camped out there are neither protesters nor revolutionaries. He said protesters "do not torch, attack hotels, rape women, steal from shops, they do not burn the presidential palace."

In an impassioned speech Saturday carried live on Egyptian state TV, Kandil said the street violence and political unrest that has engulfed the country for more than a week is threatening the nation's already ailing economy.

"The Egyptian economy is bleeding," he said. "It is holding itself, but if this situation persists it will be dangerous, extremely dangerous."

Foreign currency earners such as tourism and foreign investment have dried up in the past two years of political unrest. Foreign reserves currently estimate at around $15 billion, less than half of where it stood before the 2011 uprising that ousted Mubarak. The Egyptian pound has also lost around four percent of its value due to the turmoil and planned austerity measures threaten to curb subsidies relied on by millions of poor Egyptians.

Kandil called on the opposition to back away from any more protests or marches.

Also Saturday, Mubarak's former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, was found guilty of abusing his position by forcing police conscripts to work on his mansion and land outside Cairo. Both he and former riot police chief Hassan Abdel-Hamid were sentenced to three years in prison and fined around $340,000. The verdict can be appealed.

Al-Adly is already serving time for corruption and was sentenced to life in prison with Mubarak for failing to prevent the killing of nearly 900 protesters during the 2011 revolt that ousted the longtime leader. Both men appealed, and will be given a retrial.

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  • In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 photo, Egyptian protesters celebrate the capture of a state security armored vehicle that demonstrators commandeered during clashes with security forces and brought to nearby Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. On Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. Egypt's army chief warns of "the collapse of the state" if political crisis continues. (AP Photo/Mohsen Bayoumy)

  • In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 photo, an Egyptian protester takes a break while others use green laser pointers during clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces in Downtown Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Virginie Nguyen Hoang)

  • Egyptian protesters celebrate the capture of a state security armored vehicle that demonstrators commandeered during clashes with security forces and brought to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • An Egyptian protester displays used ordinance as others, not pictured, celebrate the capture of a state security armored vehicle that demonstrators commandeered during clashes with security forces and brought to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 photo, Egyptian protesters use camera phones to capture a burning state security armored vehicle that demonstrators commandeered during clashes with security forces nearby and brought to Tahrir Square and set it alight, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Mostafa El Shemy)

  • An Egyptian boy shows birdshot wounds on his body according to him, in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Protesters wave an Egyptian national flag as they celebrate the capture of a state security armored vehicle that demonstrators commandeered during clashes with security forces and brought to Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptian boys cover their mouths during clashes with security forces, not pictured, near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 photo, Egyptian protesters use camera phones to capture a burning state security armored vehicle that demonstrators commandeered during clashes with security forces nearby and brought to Tahrir Square and set it alight, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Mostafa El Shemy)

  • A masked Egyptian protester flashes the victory sign during clashes with riot police, background, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters run for cover during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian protester covers his face during clashes with riot police, not seen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • A protester hold the Egyptian national flag during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Former Egyptian presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, left, speaks during a press conference following the meeting of the National Salvation Front as former director of the U.N.'s nuclear agency and Nobel peace laureate, Mohamed El Baradei, center, and former Egyptian Foreign Minister and presidential candidate, Amr Moussa, right, listen in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptians attend the funeral of several Sunday victims of ongoing violence in Port Said, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo)

  • Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • A protester hold the Egyptian national flag during clashes with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters clash with riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Health and security officials say a protester has been killed in clashes between rock-throwing demonstrators and police near Tahrir Square in central Cairo. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian protester covers his face with a plastic bag during clashes with riot police, not seen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • In this Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 photo, a protester prepares to throw a rock while surrounded by tear gas and smoke during clashes with security forces near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt. (AP/Virginie Nguyen Hoang

  • An Egyptian boy throws stones during clashes between protesters and riot police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, not seen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian protester makes the sign of the victory during protests near Cairo's Tahrir Square on January 27, 2013. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police, not seen, during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian protester shouts anti--President Mohammed Morsi slogans in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • A woman carries a sign with a photo of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and Arabic that reads, "jinx, terrorist killer, embarrassment to Islam. hypocritical liar," during a march near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

  • Egyptian protesters hang a giant banner in the colors of Egypt's national flag on barbed wires in front of anti-riot soldiers at the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptian presidential guards soldiers sit on their armored vehicle in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • A protester wears a Guy Fawkes mask as he displays a derogatory poster showing President Mohammed Morsi in front of Egyptian anti-riot soldiers at the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan.25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptian protesters hang a giant banner in the colors of Egypt's national flag on barbed wires in front of anti-riot soldiers at the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police, not seen, and use scrap metal to deflect stones being returned by security forces during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian protester shouts ant-President Morsi slogans as anti-riot forces block the entrance to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

  • Anti-government protesters demonstrate during a march near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

  • Egyptian protesters evacuate an injured man during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police, not seen, and use scrap metal to deflect stones being returned by security forces during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters evacuate an injured man during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police, not seen, during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters throw stones at riot police, not seen, during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian riot police are seen through a crack in a security barrier throwing stones at protesters during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian riot police officer wearing a gas mask looks through a crack in a security barrier during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian man takes cover during clashes with security forces near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Skirmishes break out between protesters and security forces, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by security forces during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian protesters gather as skirmishes break out between demonstrators and security forces, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell)

  • Skirmishes break out between protesters and security forces, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • An Egyptian displays the national flag as skirmishes break out between protesters and security forces, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Skirmishes break out between protesters and security forces, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Skirmishes break out between protesters and security forces, unseen, near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

  • Egyptian walk past revolutionary graffiti in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Thomas Hartwell)