3 dead, hundreds hurt at funerals in Egypt port city

Clashes in Egypt's Port Said continue as protesters reignite anti-Morsi activity; Egyptian president set to address nation.

January 27, 2013 19:25
3 minute read.
Mourners attend the funerals of 33 people who died in Port Said protests, January 27, 2013.

Port Said funeral 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer)


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CAIRO - Three people were shot dead and hundreds were injured in Egypt's Port Said on Sunday during the funerals of 33 protesters killed at the weekend in the city, part of a wave of violence piling pressure on Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

An 18-year-old man and two other people were killed by gunshot wounds, Port Said's head of hospitals, Abdel Rahman Farag, told Reuters. More than 416 people suffered from teargas inhalation, while 17 sustained gunshot wounds, he said.

Gunshots had killed many of the 33 who died on Saturday when residents went on the rampage after a court sentenced 21 people, mostly from the Mediterranean port, to death for their role in deadly soccer violence at a stadium there last year.

Some in the crowd chanted on Sunday for revenge or shouted anti-Morsi slogans. "Our soul and blood, we sacrifice to Port Said," they said, as coffins were carried through the streets.

A military source said many people in Port Said, which lies next to the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula, possess guns. But it was not clear who was behind the deaths and injuries.

Elsewhere in Egypt, police fired teargas at dozens of stone-throwing protesters in Cairo in a fourth day of clashes over what demonstrators there and in other cities say is a power grab by Islamists two years after Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.

The protesters accuse Morsi, elected in June with the support of his Muslim Brotherhood group, of betraying the democratic goals of the revolution. Since protests began on Thursday, 45 people have been killed, most in Port Said and Suez, both cities where the army has now been deployed.

Morsi will address the nation on Sunday evening to address the crisis in the country.

The statement was made on state television by Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud, who is also on the council.

The National Salvation Front of liberal-minded groups and other opponents cautiously welcomed the call but demanded any such dialogue have a clear agenda and guarantees that any deal would be implemented, spokesman Khaled Dawoud told Reuters.

The Front spurned previous calls for dialogue, saying Morsi ignored voices beyond his Islamist allies.

The Front earlier on Saturday threatened an election boycott and to call for more protests on Friday if demands were not met.

Its demands included picking a national unity government to restore order and holding an early presidential poll.

A judge announced the death penalty on Saturday for 21 of the 73 defendants on trial for the Port Said massacre. Clashes in Port Said following the announcement of the verdict left at least nine dead and dozens more injured, according to the Egyptian daily Al- Ahram.

Seventy-four people died in riots at a soccer stadium in Port Said on February 1, 2012. Eyewitnesses said police did nothing to stop the melee that broke out between rival soccer teams and even refused to open the doors to allow people to escape. The massacre was held up as proof of the country’s slide toward anarchy.

Over the past week, the “ultras,” or young soccer hooligans who are often at the head of protest marches and responsible for much of the violence at Egypt’s protests posted online threats promising to destroy and burn buildings across Cairo if they were unsatisfied with the verdict.

If it is anything less than capital punishment, “the country will burn,” one 19-year-old ‘ultra’ named Ahmed told The Jerusalem Post on Friday in Tahrir Square.

“We are angry because we haven’t received our rights... It’s not just a football match, the [Muslim] Brotherhood wants to continue to burn the country to they can continue to rule,” he said. “There’s no justice.”

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