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Sunday 17 December 2017

Egypt death toll grows in riots over soccer carnage

Police in Cairo fired salvos of tear gas and birdshot at rock-throwing protesters as anger over a deadly soccer riot spilled over into another day of street violence that left four dead and more than 1,500 injured.

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

The violence -- the soccer world's worst in 15 years --has fuelled anger at Egypt's ruling military generals and the already widely distrusted police force.

Yesterday demonstrators in Cairo, the city of Suez and several Nile Delta cities turned their anger on the military, calling for it to surrender power because of what they say is the ruling generals' mismanagement of the country's transition to democracy.

In the capital, protesters in helmets and gas masks hurled stones at riot police firing tear gas outside the interior ministry, which controls the police.







Chaos

The demonstrators say they don't want to storm the ministry, but to hold a sit-in in front of it to protest the soccer deaths.

"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.

Many protesters have suggested the authorities either instigated the Port Said violence or intentionally allowed it to happen to retaliate for the key role soccer fans, known as Ultras, had in clashes with security forces during the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The violence began two days ago and escalated yesterday, with protesters pushing through the barricades erected around the fortress-like ministry 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 on Tahrir Square.

Yesterday, thousands of people rallied on the square itself, demanding early presidential elections and calling on the country's military rulers to speed up the transfer of power to a civilian authority.

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 military council ruling Egypt.

hnews@herald.ie

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