Egypt: Street Conflict Escalations in wake of Deaths in Football Riot Disaster
Cairo (CNN) — Violent clashes reignited in Egypt on Friday between police and protesters angered by reports of inadequate security at a soccer match that devolved into a riot this week, leaving 79 people dead.
Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Interior Ministry in Cairo, prompting riot police to deploy tear gas for fear the men — some of them masked — would storm the building.
“The people demand the downfall of the field marshal,” chanted the protesters, who waved flags from the popular soccer team Al-Ahly, which was playing in the game Wednesday when the riot broke out.
Gen. Marwan Mustapha, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said protesters who had taken over a government taxation building were throwing Molotov cocktails from the roof. Nearly 200 police officers were injured, including several by birdshot pellets, Mustapha said. Overall, more than 1,400 people were injured and one person was killed, according to Deputy Health Minister Hisham Shiha.
Similar clashes were reported Friday in Suez, where at least 18 people were injured, Shiha said.
On Thursday, two people died in Suez and a military officer was accidentally killed by a vehicle driven by security forces in Cairo, officials said.
The latest demonstrations come amid a period of mourning for those who died at the match Wednesday in the Mediterranean city of Port Said. Fans of the hometown Al-Masry club stormed the field after a 3-1 win over Cairo’s Al-Ahly club. Rival fans battled with rocks and chairs, and witnesses said many of the Al-Masry fans carried knives and sticks.
Many suffocated in the crush of bodies that formed as fans attempting to flee the stadium found their escape blocked by a locked steel gate, survivors said.
In the aftermath, horrified fans questioned why police had not stopped the Al-Masry fans from rushing the visitors’ stands, why exits were barred and how fans were able to take weapons into the stadium.