2/03/2012

Egypt probes deadly soccer riot amid new protests

CAIRO - Egypt's prosecution authorities began on Thursday an investigation into a deadly soccer riot which killed 74 and injured hundreds amid new protests against police.

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Riot police stand guard as soccer fans chant anti-ministry of interior slogans during a protest condemning the death that happened on Wednesday at Port Said stadium, near the Interior Ministry in Cairo, in front of the parliament in Cairo, Feb 2, 2012.

Attorney General Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud and his two aides on Thursday inspected the Port Said Stadium, the scene of the clashes between fans of two rival teams on Wednesday night upon the end of a premier league match, the official MENA news agency reported.

The top prosecutor ordered TV satellite channels or individuals who shot the match hand over their video tapes, the report added.

The Interior Ministry said 47 people have been arrested after the riot.

Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council, has ordered the formation of a fact-finding committee to probe the clashes in the Port Said Stadium. He said police should be responsible for the security of games.

Meanwhile, new clashes between Egyptian riot police and protestors in Cairo have left 388 people injured on Thursday night, state TV reported.

Security forces fired tear gas at protestors to prevent them from reaching the Interior Ministry building near Tahrir Square. The protestors chanted slogans against police and held them accountable for allowing fans to enter the stadium with sticks and knives.

On Friday, a big rally is called for in Cairo, which makes the country face fresh protests due to the latest violent event.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) announced a three-day national mourning over the incident from Thursday to Saturday.

The military council held an emergency meeting on Thursday to discuss the handling of the most tragic event in the country's soccer history.

The military also condemned the criticism against them after the riot occurred.

Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri on Thursday sacked Port Said Governor Mohamed Abdel Hashem. Provincial security chief Essam Samak and the board of the Egyptian Football Association were also fired.

At an emergency session of the People's Assembly (lower house of parliament) over the riot, Ganzouri extended deep condolences to the Egyptian people over the incident. He said he shouldered the political responsibility for the violence and was ready to face any investigation.

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Blood is seen on a chair one day after supporters clashed at the Port Said stadium, Feb 2, 2012.

On Wednesday night, fans rushed to the Port Said Stadium field where el-Masry, a Port Said team, beat the most popular national team el-Ahly three to one.

Many fans entered the stadium with sticks in their hands and supporters of the two rival teams started fighting each other. Two Ahly players are reportedly slightly injured in the clash.

The riot was caused by some insulting posters carried by the Ahly fans, Nile TV reported.

SCAF chief Hussein Tantawi ordered two military helicopters to Port Said to transfer the players, fans and the injured to the capital Cairo.

The premier league has been postponed indefinitely due to the incident.

Mohammed AlBaradei, former chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, denounced the incident on his twitter account, saying all security bodies in Egypt should be restructured and any delay in this regard is "a betrayal to the nation".

Egypt's Stock Exchange suffered heavy losses on Thursday, due to the impact of the Port Said soccer riot. Benchmark EGX 30 index fell 4.6 percent.

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People pray as others wait for the arrival of those wounded in clashes in Port Said stadium, at Ramses metro station in Cairo early, Feb 2, 2012.

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Protesters chant anti-government slogans during a protest condemning the death of soccer fans at Port Said stadium, near the Interior Ministry in Cairo, Feb 2, 2012.

(Xinhua)

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