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Dozens Killed in Egyptian Soccer Riot, League Suspended

  • VOA News

Policemen and soccer fans argue during a scuffle as fans attempt to enter a stadium to watch a match, on the outskirts of Cairo February 8, 2015.

Policemen and soccer fans argue during a scuffle as fans attempt to enter a stadium to watch a match, on the outskirts of Cairo February 8, 2015.

Egypt's government suspended football (soccer) league matches indefinitely after clashes between riot police and supporters at an army-owned stadium in Cairo left at least 25 people dead.

Fans of Egypt's Zamalek soccer team flock in droves outside the Air Defense Stadium to watch a match between Egyptian Premier League clubs Zamalek and ENPPI in a suburb east of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.

Fans of Egypt's Zamalek soccer team flock in droves outside the Air Defense Stadium to watch a match between Egyptian Premier League clubs Zamalek and ENPPI in a suburb east of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.

Witnesses said police tried to set up barricades and used tear gas to disperse soccer fans who tried to force their way into the stadium.

The Association of Zamalek Supporters, known as Ultras White Knights, blamed security forces for opening only one gate to let the fans in, causing a stampede.

Video clips showing bodies of dead fans scattered near the stadium were published on social media.

The Association of Zamalek Supporters published a list of names identifying 22 victims. Medics say there were 40 deaths. Authorities say they expected the death toll to rise.

Egyptian television said authorities issued an arrest warrant for the leaders of the Ultras White Knights.

The clash happened at a match between two Cairo clubs, Zamalek and Enppi, in Egypt's Premier Soccer League. Police used teargas to disperse the crowd, security forces said.

"Huge numbers of Zamalek club fans came to Air Defense Stadium to attend the match... and tried to storm the stadium gates by force, which prompted the troops to prevent them from continuing the assault,'' the Interior Ministry said in a statement, without giving more details.

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 killed 74 people. Later that year, angry fans burned down the headquarters of Egypt's Football Association, protesting its decision to resume matches before bringing those behind that 2012 riot to justice.

Egypt has curbed the number of people allowed into soccer matches since that riot, prompting fans to often try to storm soccer grounds that they are banned from entering.

Diaa Bekheet contributed to this story.

A soccer fan is seen near a police car, which was set on fire by fireworks, during clashes between soccer fans and security forces in front of a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo February 8, 2015.

A soccer fan is seen near a police car, which was set on fire by fireworks, during clashes between soccer fans and security forces in front of a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo February 8, 2015.

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