Egypt Football Riots: Three Protesters Killed
Three protesters have now been killed after riots broke out in both the coastal city of Suez and Cairo in response to violent clashes at a football match in Port Said, it has reported.
Security forces opened fire on two demonstrators after they tried to break into a police station in Suez, according to witnesses, reports Sky news.
A third person has now been reported to have been killed in the clashes in Cairo, during the second day of demonstrations. A volunteer doctor, remaining anonymous amid fears for his safety, told AP that the man had died of birdshot fired at close range.
Hundreds of people were injured in Cairo in renewed violence between security forces and protesters angered by the deaths of 74 fans at the football match between Port Said's Al Masry and Cairo's Al Ahly club.
The violence has quickly been channelled into a political contest, with many criticising the security forces for doing less to contain Wednesday's violence. "This was not a sports accident, this was a military massacre!" protesters in Cairo have been shouting, according to Sky News.
The violence follows a year of unrest in the North African state, which saw president Mubarak removed from power in one of the early changes of the Arab Spring.
There is increasing pressure on the ruling military council to contain the clashes. The government is being blamed for the violence, which saw missiles, flares and bottles thrown as State TV showed fights breaking out across the pitch.
Egyptian Islamists are saying that the rampage on Wednesday was planned, a violent message from supporters of the deposed Mubarak. The Muslim brotherhood is interested in scoring political points over the outbreak, as security forces struggle to contain the clashes.
Security forces are being blamed for the deaths at the football ground, with suggestion that they allowed it to happen.
At an emergency session of the Egyptian parliament on Thursday, prime minister Kamal al-Ganzouri announced that the head of the country's football association had been sacked and the board dissolved, the BBC reported.
The first funerals took place on Thursday for some of those fans left dead as three days of national mourning were announced and Tahrir Square was closed off.
The two protesters died in what began as a peaceful demonstration from the Al-Ahly headquarters to the country's interior ministry soon turned sour as more than 10,000 protesters approached the area around the building, which is close to Tahrir Square, the focal point of last year's demonstrations against the then-president, Hosni Mubarak.
Tear gas was fired by security forces as rocks and other missiles were thrown by protesters who also set fire to tyres, sending thick black smoke into the air.
Ambulances struggled to reach the areas and a number of the injured were seen being transported by motorcycle to hospital. Egyptian state TV said 100 people had passed out because of the tear gas.
The Associated Press reported that protesters appealed to the army to join their cause and demand the resignation of the top generals.
"We dreamed of change. They fooled us and brought us a field marshal instead," the protesters chanted, "Our army must choose between the military council and the revolutionaries."
Thursday's protests were triggered after the events at the football match where fans of Al Masry, the home team, flooded the pitch following a rare 3-1 victory over rivals Al-Ahly, the country’s top team. What seemed like a celebratory pitch invasion quickly turned into violence with fans, players and officials all running for their lives.
Reuters reported that the Egyptian Army was sent to the stadium to ensure the security of the players, who were eventually removed from the ground. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military regime, met the Al-Ahly team at an air force base near Cairo after they were flown back on a military aircraft.
"This will not bring Egypt down," he said. "These incidents happen anywhere in the world. We will not let those behind it go ...This will not affect Egypt and its security."
Despite the presence of hundreds of police officers, security services seemed helpless to stop the melee as rival fans attacked each other with whatever weapons they could find.
Hesham Sheiha, Egypt's deputy health minister, told state TV: "This is unfortunate and deeply saddening."
One of the Ahli players, Mohamed Abo Treika, spoke to local TV. He said: "This is not football. This is a war and people are dying in front of us. There is no movement and no security and no ambulances. I call for the premier league to be cancelled. This is a horrible situation and today can never be forgotten.”