News / Africa

Renewed Clashes Grip Egypt

An Egyptian boy takes cover while others throw stones during clashes with the security forces near the interior Ministry in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 3, 2012.
An Egyptian boy takes cover while others throw stones during clashes with the security forces near the interior Ministry in downtown Cairo, Egypt, February 3, 2012.

Violence spread across Egypt Friday, killing at least three people in a growing fallout from this week's deadly soccer riot.

Thick clouds of teargas filled the air over Cairo's Tahrir Square as riot police, defending Egypt's interior ministry building, fired sporadic rounds at protesters trying to storm the building. By early evening, the road leading to the ministry was littered with rubble and fires burned from rubbish that had been set ablaze.

At least three deaths were reported nationwide and over 500 people were wounded in the clashes. In Suez, protesters tried to storm a police post and at least two people died in the melee.  

It was the third day of protests as anger over the inability of security forces to prevent Wednesday's soccer stampede that left 74 dead in Port Said has spread into calls for the ruling military council to surrender power to a civilian government

By early afternoon, hundreds of people had gathered in Tahrir Square for Friday prayers, as a preacher, his voice breaking into sobs, delivered a eulogy for dead soccer fans.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Port Said chanting slogans against the country's ruling military.

Crowds of young soccer fans, called Ultras, as well as Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood, have been demanding that the military council and top officials step down and that presidential elections be held immediately. Presidential elections are due to be held in June.

Editor and publisher Hisham Kassem says the violent backlash stems primarily from the pent up frustrations of young protesters.

"It's almost like we're venting 5,000 years of repression. There's nobody behind the violence happening around my house near the [interior] ministry, to the best of my knowledge," he said. "It's just frustrated young men who are going through very difficult living circumstances, and it's difficult to explain to them the amount of damage that's happening to the country because of things like that, or the fact that they could lose an eye or lose their life even."

Kassem says months of unrest from the uprising that drove Egypt's president from office have caused Egypt's foreign currency reserves to be depleted and for outside investment to grind to a halt. The vital tourism industry has also suffered. This week's post soccer mayhem violence further projects the nation's unstable image worldwide.

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