Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Clashes between rioters and police in Egypt’s Port Said have killed At least 32 people, while another 41 were killed in separate anti-government clashes in the capital Cairo.
Protesters in Port Said were enraged by the death sentences handed to 21 men for their involvement in last year’s football stadium disaster, which resulted in the deaths of 74 people.
Among the dead protestors are Abdel-Halim al-Dizawi, who plays for the city’s Al-Marikh football team, and Tamer al-Fahla, who used to play for al-Masri. Both men were shot dead.
Police fired tear gas at dozens of stone-throwing protesters in Cairo on Sunday in a fourth day of street violence that compounded the political challenges facing President Mohamed Mursi.
Angry protests have been going in cities across Egypt since Thursday led by opponents of Mursi and his Islamist allies. Demonstrations were initially timed to mark Friday’s second anniversary of the uprising that overthrew Hosni Mubarak.
The army, Egypt’s interim rulers until Mursi’s election June, were sent back onto the streets to restore order in Port Said and Suez, another port city on the Suez Canal where at least eight people have been killed in clashes with police.
As the situation spiraled out of control Saturday, police disappeared from Port Said’s streets, residents and security officials said.
The military then dispatched troops to the city, which is located on the northern tip of the Suez Canal. Soldiers took up positions at vital state facilities, including the local power and water stations, the city’s main courthouse, the local government building and the city prison. Navy sailors were guarding the local offices of the Suez Canal company.
Navy vessels were escorting merchant ships sailing through the international waterway, and army helicopters were flying over the canal to ensure the safety of shipping, according to Suez Canal spokesman Tareq Hassanein.
Residents said Port Said was quiet overnight except for the intermittent bursts of gunfire. The city was still on edge Sunday, although a degree of calm had returned. Streets were largely deserted, stores were closed for the second successive day, and some hotels asked guests to leave, fearing more violence.
Funerals for those killed on Saturday were to be held later Sunday, and residents said they expected more street clashes after the city buries its dead.