Friday 24 March 2017

Four Egyptians die in fresh riots with police

Wounded protesters are evacuated during clashes with security forces near the Interior Ministry in Cairo yesterday
Wounded protesters are evacuated during clashes with security forces near the Interior Ministry in Cairo yesterday

Dean Grey

THERE was more bloodshed on the streets of Egypt last night as four people were killed in violent clashes with police in the aftermath of the soccer massacre this week.

Police relentlessly fired salvos of tear gas and birdshot at rock-throwing protesters in Cairo as the wave of anger over the deadly football riot showed no sign of abating. Apart from the four deaths, more than 1,500 were injured nationwide.

The protesters blame the police for failing to prevent a melee after a match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said on Wednesday that killed 74 people.

The violence -- the football world's worst in 15 years -- also has fuelled frustration with the ruling generals who took power after the uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak last February.

Egyptians furious over the bloodshed took to the streets in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities.

The biggest demonstrations were in the capital, however, where protesters wearing helmets and gas masks fought their way through streets thick with smoke from tear gas towards the interior ministry, a frequent target for demonstrations because it is responsible for the police.

Many protesters have suggested the authorities either instigated the Port Said violence or intentionally allowed it to happen to retaliate against the football fans known as Ultras who played a key role in clashes with security forces during the uprising that toppled Mubarak.

"I came down because what happened in Port Said was a political plan from the military to say it's either them or chaos," said 19-year-old Islam Muharram.

The clashes in Cairo began late yesterday and escalated overnight, with protesters pushing through the barricades erected around the fortress-like building and bringing down a wall of concrete blocks erected outside the ministry two months ago, after similar violence left more than 40 protesters dead.

Ambulances and volunteers on motorcycles ferried the injured, most of them suffering respiratory problems from the tear gas, to field hospitals set up nearby on Tahrir Square.

On the square last night, thousands of people rallied to condemn the security forces for failing to stop the Port Said bloodshed, and pointed to the incident to bolster their claims that the military has mismanaged Egypt's transition to a democracy. They also called for early elections and demanded the army speed up the transfer of power to a civilian administration.

Execute

Meanwhile, some 1,500 protesters marched to the defence ministry, chanting "the people want to execute the marshal", referring to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the ruling military council.

One security officer was killed and were 138 injured, according to the official MENA news agency.

One protester in Cairo was killed after being hit by birdshot at close range, a volunteer doctor said. He said four protesters had lost an eye from birdshot, and that his field hospital close to Tahrir Square was overwhelmed with the wounded.

Two protesters were also killed in Suez by police who opened fire, said health official Mohammed Lasheen.

About 3,000 people demonstrated in front of the Suez police headquarters, prompting police to fire tear gas and live ammunition, witnesses said. A third protester in Suez was in critical condition with a wound to the neck.

The chief of security in Suez denied the deaths there were from police gunfire.

In Alexandria, thousands of people, some of them carrying photos of those killed in the football riot, protested in front of the city's military headquarters, while in Port Said, hundreds of protesters rallied in the streets to condemn the attacks on the fans.

Irish Independent

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