Sunday, June 24, 2018

Egypt soccer fans, troops clash; 1 killed

CAIRO — Egyptian soldiers clashed with thousands of angry soccer fans in a Mediterranean coastal city over the suspension of their club following a deadly riot last month, witnesses said Saturday. A medical official said a teenager was killed and 68 people injured.

The Feb. 1 melee following a match in the city of Port Said in which at least 73 people died was the world's worst soccer-related disaster in 15 years. The causes remain murky. Officers have been charged with assisting Port Said fans attack supporters of a Cairo club who had a long history of enmity with the police, and some port residents have claimed that hired outsiders were responsible for much of the violence.

In the latest clashes, Egyptian troops fired volleys of tear gas and shot into in the air to disperse protesters affiliated with Port Said's Al-Masry club, angry over what they see as unfair measures against their club and their city. Violence erupted late Friday and continued through Saturday.

Witnesses said that protesters set fire to tires and blocked major roads before gathering in front of the Suez Canal's main administrative building in an attempt to storm it. Soldiers and police cordoned off the building.

The clashes originally erupted after the Egyptian Football Association on Friday officially suspended Al-Masry for two seasons through 2013, and closed its stadium for three years as punishment for the stadium riot.

Street fighting renewed Saturday evening as protesters hurled rocks at military forces, who responded with salvos of tear gas.

The Feb. 1 riot began minutes after the final whistle in a league match between Cairo club al-Ahly, the most popular in Egypt, and Al-Masry. The home side won 3-1, but fans were upset for what they said were obscene signs by Al-Ahly club fans.

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