At least five people have been killed by police and some 1,500 injured in demonstrations in Cairo to mourn 74 fans who were killed at a soccer match on Wednesday in Port Said. Thousands of militant soccer fans, the ultras, gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Thursday, chanting against Egypt’s interim military government who they accuse of being complicit in the violence. Some witnesses at the soccer match between Port Said’s team and the Cairo-based Al Ahly club said that Wednesday’s violence was not (as the military has claimed) “pure hooliganism,” but that “provocateurs in some way connected with the state” instigated the violence. Some members of Egypt’s newly elected Parliament have also said that security officials in Port Said were in some way responsible.
In another sign of the unrest in Egypt and the current government’s inability to control it, two female American tourists and their Egyptian guide were kidnapped in the town of Saint Catherine, a tourist hub near Mount Sinai. The government says that Bedouin tribesman, seeking the release of two relatives arrested on suspicion of drug possession, were behind the abductions. The hostages were released to the Egyptian police after a few hours though it was not clear if Egyptian authorities had met the Bedouins’ demands. On Tuesday, 25 Chinese factory workers were abducted from a company bus in Sinai; they have been released, according to the Chinese government.
Soccer Riot in Port Said Turns Deadly
The Guardian gives this account of how the soccer riot started:
Trouble began at full time when a group of supporters from the Al Masri home club stormed through open gates leading onto the pitch, first chasing players from the losing Al Ahly team of Cairo, and then their supporters, many of whom were crushed against closed exit gates….
Morgue officials in the city said that most of the dead had been killed by blows, falls or being crushed, and not by bullets, for example. TV footage of the riot showed men on the pitch with clubs and poles, which are banned from football grounds.
Islam Saeed, a member of the Al Ahly ultras told the Guardian of a “huge lapse in security,” with almost no security outside the stadium and security not intervening when crowds stormed the field after their team made a goal and then doing nothing as the violence escalated.
The bodies of 52 of those killed in Port Said have been taken to a morgue in Cairo, suggesting that most of those who died were fans of the Cairo team. The New York Times also says that news reports say many of those killed were teenagers or younger.
Photo taken February 3 by Gigi Ibrahim
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