Egypt violence continues as 6 killed in Port Said

Published January 27th, 2013 - 08:05 GMT
Violence erupted in Port Said after 21 people were sentenced to death on Saturday.
Violence erupted in Port Said after 21 people were sentenced to death on Saturday.

Six people were killed and more than 400 injured in Egypt's Port Said on Sunday as rioting sparked by death sentences passed on fans of a local football team rocked the canal city for a second straight day.

Crowds attempted to storm three police stations and others torched a social club belonging to the armed forces, looting items inside, security officials said.

The head of Port Said's hospitals, Abdelrahman Farag said among the latest dead was a teenager shot in the chest. Another 460 people were injured in the revolt.

The violence comes a day after 31 people, including two anti-riot police, were killed in clashes in the Mediterranean city after a Cairo court handed down death sentences on 21 supporters of the local football club, Al-Masry.

It also follows deadly protests in Cairo on Friday against President Mohamed Morsi, on the second anniversary of Egypt's uprising, highlighting deep political divisions and long-standing tensions between police and protesters.

On a grim day in Port Said, bodies wrapped in white shrouds were carried in open coffins by a sea of mourners along the city's main avenue.

"Our city is being hit by the interior ministry!" and "Down with Brotherhood rule!" chanted the crowd, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood from which Morsi draws his main support.

A brief burst of gunfire sent mourners running in several directions amid chaotic scenes, which later degenerated into rioting.

In Cairo, angry anti-riot policemen barred Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim from attending the funeral of their two colleagues killed in the Port Said clashes of Saturday, the official news agency MENA reported.

The action was taken in protest at police not having been armed with live rounds to protect themselves, it said.

Unrest also erupted on Sunday in Suez, another canal city, where protesters surrounded a police station, lobbed Molotov cocktails at security forces and blocked the road leading to the capital, security officials said.

 

Overnight clashes in Cairo near Tahrir Square -- symbolic heart of the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak -- ran into late Sunday afternoon, with one Nile bridge blocked off and the odor of tear gas hanging in the air.

Demonstrators had during the night blocked the 6 October bridge, a vital link between east and west Cairo, and burned cars as police clashed with masked protesters on the Nile corniche.

The US and British embassies, located just minutes from Tahrir Square, closed their services to the public for the day.

Trouble flared on Saturday just minutes after the verdict in the trial of 2012 football riots in Port Said after a match between home side Al-Masry and Cairo's Al-Ahly that left 74 people dead.

Many Egyptians believe the deadly stadium violence was orchestrated either by police or by Mubarak supporters, and any verdict was likely to trigger a highly charged response.

Cairo football fans had threatened widespread chaos if justice was not served, while Port Said residents said the ruling was politically motivated.

Egypt's top cleric must ratify Saturday's verdicts, as is customary. The sentences are also subject to appeal. Verdicts will be announced on March 9 for another 52 defendants, including nine police officers.


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