Egyptian football riot with a stampede and fighting between police and fans

February 9, 2015 6:00 am

A riot broke out outside of a major football game in , with a
stampede and fighting between police and fans killing at least 22
people, authorities said.
The riot on Sunday night local time,
only three years after similar violence killed 74 people, began ahead of
a match between Egyptian Premier League clubs Zamalek and ENPPI at Air
Defence Stadium east of Cairo.
Such attacks in the past have
sparked days of violent protests pitting the country’s hard-core fans
against police officers in a nation already on edge after years of
revolt and turmoil.
A statement from Egypt’s public prosecutor said the violence killed 22 people and that it had ordered an investigation.
What
caused the violence wasn’t immediately clear. Security officials said
Zamalek fans tried to force their way into the match without tickets,
sparking clashes.

Fans have only recently been allowed back at matches and the
Interior Ministry planned to let only 10,000 fans into the stadium,
which has a capacity of about 30,000, the officials said.
Zamalek
fans, known as White Knights, posted on their group’s official Facebook
page that the violence began because authorities only opened one
narrow, barbed-wire door to let them in.
They said that sparked pushing and shoving that later saw police officers fire tear gas and birdshot.
A
fan who tried to attend the game, who spoke to the Associated Press on
condition of anonymity out of fear of being targeted by police, said the
stampede was caused by police who fired tear gas at the tightly packed
crowd.
“Those who fell down could not get back up again,” the man said.
The
Zamalek fan group later posted pictures on Facebook it claimed were of
dead fans, including the names of 22 people it said had been killed.
The AP could not immediately verify the images, nor the casualty count.
Egypt’s hardcore soccer fans, known as Ultras, frequently clash with police inside and outside of stadiums.
They are deeply politicised and many participated in the country’s 2011 uprising that forced out President Hosni Mubarak.
Many
consider them as one of the most organised movements in Egypt after the
Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which the government later outlawed as a
terrorist organisation following the 2013 military overthrow of Islamist
President Muhammad Morsi.
The violence comes as police face
increasing scrutiny following the shooting death of a female protester
in Cairo and the arrest of protesters under a law heavily restricting
demonstrations.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has pledged to
bring stability to Egypt amid bombings and attacks by Islamic militants,
but also has said Egypt’s emergency situation meant that some
violations of human rights were inevitable, if regrettable.

Firefighters extinguish a blaze outside a Cairo stadium following an outbreak of violence. Photo / AFP

The deadliest riot in Egypt soccer history came during a 2012 match when Port Said’s Al-Masry team hosted Cairo’s Al-Ahly.
That riot, at the time the deadliest worldwide since 1996, killed 74 people, mostly Al-Ahly fans.
Two
police officers later received 15-year prison sentences for gross
negligence and failure to stop the Port Said killings, a rare incident
of security officials being held responsible for deaths in the country.
Seven
other officers were acquitted, angering soccer fans who wanted more
police officers to be held accountable for the incident and other
episodes of violence.
In response, angry fans burned down the
headquarters of Egypt’s Football Association, also protesting its
decision to resume matches before bringing those behind that 2012 riot
to justice.
They have also protested and fought officers outside of the country’s Interior Ministry, which oversees police in the country.

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