VIOLENCE erupted on the streets of Egypt yesterday as thousands demonstrated against the alleged failure of the authorities to prevent rioting at a football match that left 74 people dead.
Nearly 400 people were injured as security forces fired tear gas at fans and other protesters in Cairo.
The bloodshed – which comes as security has been steadily deteriorating – threatened to plunge the country into a new crisis nearly a year after a popular uprising forced former leader Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Tension had increased throughout the day in Cairo as many of the dead were brought home for burial and the wounded joined the protests, clearly in distraught for the loss of friends.
Wednesday’s riot at a stadium in Port Said erupted when fans of the local team, Al-Masry, stormed the field following a rare 3-1 win against Al-Ahly, based in Cairo and one of Egypt’s most popular clubs.
What began as a peaceful march from the Al-Ahly headquarters descended into fury as more than 10,000 protesters reached the area outside the Interior Ministry building near Tahrir Square, the epicentre of last year’s popular uprising that ousted Mubarak.
Adel Adawi, a health ministry official, was quoted by the state-run news agency as saying 388 protesters were injured outside the interior ministry, most from tear gas inhalation as well as bruises and broken bones from rocks that were thrown.
The protesters raised flags of Al-Ahly and Egyptian flags. Some held black banners reading: “Mourning”.
Chants calling for the execution of the country’s military rulers, led by Mubarak’s defence minister of two decades Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, rang out as the protesters marched from the square.
Police blamed over match bloodshed: Page 10.