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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 29 July, 2014

Three days of mourning after at least 74 killed in Egyptian soccer clashes

Fans invaded the pitch after a match between two of the country’s biggest football clubs Al-Masry and Al-Ahly.There are conflicting reports as to what caused the violence.

Egyptian fans rush into the field following Al-Ahly club soccer match against Al-Masry club at the soccer stadium in Port Said
Egyptian fans rush into the field following Al-Ahly club soccer match against Al-Masry club at the soccer stadium in Port Said
Image: STR/AP/Press Association Images

EGYPT HAS DECLARED three days of national mourning after at least 74 people died and hundreds were injured in clashes between rival football fans in the city of Port Said.

Fans invaded the pitch after a match between two of the country’s biggest football clubs – Al-Masry and Al-Ahly.

BBC News reports that emergency meetings of the cabinet and newly-formed parliament have been called with protest marches planned for today against the police’s inability to control the violence.

Late last night and early this morning, hundreds gathered at Cairo’s main railway station to receive the injured and bodies of the dead who arrived back on the train from Port Said. Slogans against military rule were chanted and those arriving home told of the violence they had witnessed.

“They came at us with machetes and knives…they threw some of us from the fourth floor,” one returning fan told the private TV station ONTV.

“Everyone was beating us. They were beating us from inside and outside, with fireworks, stones, metal bars, and some had knives, I swear,” another fan told the station, which did not give their names.

Some witnesses have claimed a conspiracy between military and police to cause the chaos which has been described as the biggest disaster in the country’s football history.

Speaking from an air base near Cairo where the Al-Ahly players were flown back from Port Said on a military aircraft, the country’s head of the ruling army council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said: ”This will not bring Egypt down… These incidents happen anywhere in the world. We will not let those behind it go.”

(Warning: some viewers may find footage contained in this video distressing)


YouTube: SynticS

The scuffles erupted when fans of Al-Masry stormed the field following a rare 3-1 win against Al-Ahly. Al-Masry supporters hurled sticks and stones as they chased players and fans from the rival team, who ran toward the exits and up the stands to escape, according to witnesses.

One man told state TV he heard gunshots in the stadium, while a lawmaker from Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood said the police didn’t prevent fans carrying knives from entering the stadium.

There were some reports that security forces at the Al-Asry end of the stadium had locked the gates preventing fans from leaving the ground but these could not immediately be confirmed.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent said that Al Ahly fans were said to have been provoking Al-Masry fans throughout the game with abusive language.

(Warning: some viewers may find footage contained in this video distressing)


YouTube: AlJazeeraEnglish

In Cairo, fans angered that another match between Al-Ismaili and Zamalek was halted because of the Port Said violence set fire to the seats at the main stadium in the Egyptian capital, authorities said.

No injuries were reported, and employees said firefighters extinguished the blaze before it caused much damage.

In a statement, the head of football’s world governing body FIFA said it was a “black day for football.”

“My thoughts are with the families of those who have lost their lives this evening. This is a black day for football. Such a catastrophic situation is unimaginable and should not happen,” Sepp Blatter said.

The Egyptian Premier League, which the games were part of, has been suspended indefinitely.

- additional reporting from AP

Earlier: At least 73 killed in clashes after Egyptian football match

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