Deadly clashes in Egypt following football verdicts


Cairo, Jan 26: Deadly clashes erupted today in Egypt's canal city of Port Said killing at least 14 people including two policemen following a court sentencing 21 football fans to death for last year's  post-match riot.
The violent clashes erupted after a Cairo court handed down the death sentences over the football riot last February in which 74  people were killed, and came a day after violence swept Egypt on  the second anniversary of its uprising.
Officials said army would be deployed in the area. As news of the verdict spread, the families of the sentenced gathered in front of a prison in Port Said.
They tried to storm the prison leading to fierce clashes with security forces.
Reports said unidentified assailants used automatic weapons against police who responded with tear gas, witnesses said.
Egyptian Health Ministry said the death toll has increased to 14. Two policemen were among those killed, the Interior Ministry said in a separate statement, adding that there were "many critical injuries among police forces".
Troops are being sent to Port Said, a senior army officer said."It has been decided to deploy some units to work for calm and stability and the protection of public establishments," General Ahmed Wasfi said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency.According to witnesses, shops in the are have closed down and armoured personnel vehicles have been deployed.
The verdict came as surprise for many as all experts expected acquittal.
The judge said in his statement read live on state TV that he would announce the verdict for the remaining 52 defendants on March 9.
Among those on trial are nine security officials.  The soccer melee on February 1, 2012 between Port Said's Al-Masry fans and Cairo's Al-Ahly fans was the world's deadliest soccer violence in 15 years.
As is customary in Egypt, the death sentences will be sent to a top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for approval. The sentences comes after a day of clashes marking the revolution’s second anniversary left at least nine people dead and 530 injured.
Much has elapsed since the mass uprising of 2011 overthrew Mubarak, and Egyptians have for the first time elected a government of their own. But the developments have left the country sharply polarised.
The presidential vote that elected Brotherhood leader Mohamed Mursi  as the president was far from overwhelming for any single candidate.
A recent referendum on the constitution also left the country deeply divided with the secular and liberal opposition terming the draft as "too Islamist" that would compromise on the rights of the minorities.
Not much has changed in the last three years in terms of anger at the economic and social polices and frustration towards achieving real changes.
The critics of Mursi say his policies side with the rich and are no different than those laws of Mubarak.
Mursi took to Twitter to appeal for calm, urging "citizens to adhere to the values of the revolution, express opinions freely and peacefully and renounce violence".

Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST

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