Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Death toll in latest Egypt clashes climbs to 12

CAIRO — Egyptian security forces on Saturday fired tear gas from armored trucks at protesters demanding an end to military rule, as anger over a deadly soccer riot fueled a third day of clashes that have killed at least 12 people.

The violence followed a melee and stampede after a soccer match Wednesday in Port Said in which 74 people died in the world's worst soccer violence in 15 years. Protesters accuse the security forces of failing to prevent the bloodshed.

After two days of running street battles, clashes broke out again in downtown Cairo Saturday as demonstrators marched on the Interior Ministry. Security forces fired volleys of tear gas at rock-throwing protesters calling for the army to relinquish power. The ministry has been a frequent target for the protesters because it is responsible for the widely distrusted police.

In a bid to end the violence, a group of lawmakers and public figures said they met with Interior Ministry officials to try to negotiate a cease-fire. But security forces disregarded a plan to hold their fire and lobbed tear gas and fired birdshot on a group of mediators attempting to persuade protesters to clear a street leading to the ministry.

"The continued clashes are a way for the ministry to distract attention from the real demands for the military leaders to step down," said Bassem Kamel, a lawmaker who tried to negotiate the truce.

Some of the protesters themselves urged an end to the violence and called on people to leave the Interior Ministry area.

Police cordoned off several streets with lines of riot police and barbed wire, pushing protesters back from the ministry.

Rights groups and newly elected members of parliament have called on the military to immediately transfer power to a civilian administration.

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