A protester throws a tear gas canister back at the riot police during clashes near Tahrir Square, in Cairo, yesterday.
PORT SAID, Egypt: At least 30 people were killed yesterday when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, violence that compounds a political crisis facing Islamist President Mohammed Mursi.
Armoured vehicles and military police fanned through the streets of Port Said, where gunshots rang out and protesters burned tyres in anger that people from their city had been blamed for the deaths of 74 people at a match last year.
The rioting in Port Said, one of the most deadly spasms of violence since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster two years ago, followed a day of anti-Mursi demonstrations on Friday, when nine people were killed. The toll over the past two days stands at 39.
The flare-ups make it even tougher for Mursi, who drew fire last year for expanding his powers and pushing through an Islamist-tinged constitution, to fix the creaking economy and cool tempers enough to ensure a smooth parliamentary election.
That vote is expected in the next few months and is meant to cement a democratic transition that has been blighted from the outset by political rows and street clashes.
The National Defence Council, which is led by Mursi and includes the defence minister who commands the army, called for “a broad national dialogue that would be attended by independent national characters” to discuss political differences and ensure a “fair and transparent” parliamentary poll.
The statement was made on state television by Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsoud, who is also on the council.