Middle East

Egypt's Port Said hit by renewed deadly clash

At least seven people are killed and 630 others injured after violence breaks out at funeral procession in port city.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2013 23:27

At least seven people have been killed and 630 others injured during the funerals of people killed at the weekend in clashes triggered by death sentences on supporters of a local football team.

Medics said on Sunday that an 18-year-old man and two other people died of gunshots, while 39 others had sustained gunshot wounds after violence erupted at a march of thousands of mourners in the Egyptian city for 31 people killed on Saturday in the canal city.

Clashes flared with police on Saturday after a Cairo court handed down death sentences on 21 supporters of Port Said's Al-Masry football club in the trial of 2012 football riots that left 74 people dead.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reporting from Port Said said that clashes were ongoing and that tear gas was being fired. The military had been deployed for a second day in the area and helicopters could be heard overhead.

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

"Our city is being hit by the interior ministry!" and "Down with Brotherhood rule!" chanted the crowd.

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, and Port Said residents said the ruling was politically motivated.

"The government delivered a political ruling that sacrificed our children to avoid chaos," said Ashraf Sayyed, a resident of the canal city.

"Our children are the scapegoats used to restore calm in the rest of the country," Sayyed told AFP news agency.

Rageh said that it appeared that people were surprised by the sentence handed down on Saturday. She said that families of those convicted had been advised that their children would have received lesser sentences and that there was a sense of genuine surprise and consequent anger at the death sentences handed down.

There was no police presence securing Sunday's funeral, and shops and businesses remained closed for a second day, witnesses said.

Political divisions

The burials come after a day of rioting in Port Said and Suez and deadly protests in Cairo against President Mohamed Morsi, highlighting deep political divisions and long -standing tensions between police and protesters.

Meanwhile in Cairo, a fourth day of clashes on the outskirts of Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011, continued into Sunday, with one bridge blocked off and the heavy smell of tear gas hanging in the air.

"Until now, none of the revolution's goals have been realised," said Mohamed Sami, a protester in Tahrir Square. "Prices are going up. The blood of Egyptians [is] being spilt in the streets because of neglect and corruption and because of the Muslim Brotherhood is ruling Egypt for their own interests."

Overnight, demonstrators blocked the October 6 bridge, a vital flyover linking east and west Cairo, and burned cars as police clashed with masked protesters on the Nile

On Saturday evening, Egypt's National Defence Council, headed by Morsi, condemned the street violence and called for national dialogue to resolve political differences, the information minister said after the council met.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Cairo on Saturday, said that the meeting by the council had been "rejected by many opposition groups." 

"It also said that the council reserves the right to impose states of emergency or curfews either in the whole of the country or in particular areas," said Hanna. 


Al Jazeera and agencies
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