15 February 2010

Police shot and killed two protesters in the city of Suez early on Friday, a health official said, the first deaths in clashes that erupted around the country after a riot at a soccer stadium killed 74

Cairo: Police shot and killed two protesters in the city of Suez early on Friday, a health official said, the first deaths in clashes that erupted around the country after a riot at a soccer stadium killed 74 people and sports violence spiralled into a new political crisis for Egypt.

Egyptian activists called for mass protests in Cairo to demand the ouster of the ruling military council, target of raging anger over the deaths of 74 people in football-related violence.

Demonstrators plan stage marches from mosques across Cairo after noon prayer towards parliament, 28 pro-democracy groups said in statements on the Internet.

They will demand that the military council, which took power when an uprising toppled veteran president Hosni Mubarak last year, step down, the statement said.

The activists accuse the military of mismanagement of the fragile transition, and blame it for the deadly violence on Wednesday in the northern city of Port Said following a football match.

Protesters blame police for failing to control the riot after the soccer game in Port Said.

Thousands demonstrate Thursday

In Cairo, thousands had demonstrated Thursday in front of the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police. Demonstrators threw rocks, and police responded with clouds of tear gas. Hundreds were treated by medics.

In Suez, witnesses said about 3,000 people demonstrated in front of police headquarters after news spread that one of the victims in the Port Said riot was from their city.

Police responded with tear gas and then opened fire, witnesses said.

Health official Mohammad Lasheen said two men were killed by bullets. Fifteen other protesters were wounded, he said.

Mounting anger

Clashes had erupted on Thursday between protesters and police over the deadly post-football match violence.

Riot police fired tear gas at protesters trying to reach the interior ministry, furious at the lack of police intervention in Wednesday’s violence in the northern city of Port Said.

Ambulances whizzed through the nearby Tahrir Square, epicentre of last year’s uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, towards the site of the clashes.

The violence between fans of home team Al Masri and Cairo’s Al Ahli marked one of the deadliest incidents in football history. Hundreds of Al Ahli fans were joined by other team supporters, activists and ordinary Egyptians on the march from their club headquarters towards the interior ministry via Tahrir Square.

Prime Minister Kamal Al Ganzouri told an emergency session of parliament on the tragedy that the Egyptian Football Association’s director and board had been sacked, as had Port Said’s security chief. Ganzouri added that the Port Said governor had also resigned, and this had been accepted.

Many Egyptians believe the “invisible” hand of the former Mubarak regime was at play.

“The National Party’s devotees were playing behind the scenes and they had a hidden message behind what happened… they intended to destabilise the country and create an impression that Egypt is not safe or stable,” Nasser Hashim, an Egyptian expat and law firm owner in Dubai, told Gulf News.
Top footballers retire

Egypt internationals and Al Ahli players Mohammad Abu Treika, Emad Moteab and Mohammad Barakat say they have retired along with other players following the tragedy.


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