Cairo: An Egyptian police force, moving to arrest a wanted suspect, had a surprise awaiting them — a ferocious lion.

When the police raided the house of the man in the village of Kafr Essam in the Delta province of Garbia, north of Cairo, he unleashed a lion on them, reported local newspapers on Wednesday.

Horrified, some policemen ran for their lives as others jumped from the second floor of the house, they added.

The remaining policemen, supported by an army unit, fired some 200 bullets at the lion and killed it, they said. However, the man, suspected of involvement in acts of thuggery and robbery, escaped.

The Egyptian authorities are trying hard to re-establish security after thousands of inmates escaped prisons during a popular revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak last February. Since then, police have been counting on support of the army to curb lawlessness in this country of 80 million.