At least 30 killed in Egypt after football riot verdict


A judge sentenced 21 soccer fans to death on Saturday for their role in a deadly soccer riot, setting off an eruption of violence that engulfed the city of Port Said, killing at least 30 people and wounding at least 300.

Angry families and supporters of the 21 defendants poured into the streets of Port Said as soon as the verdict was announced. They attacked the jail holding the defendants to demand their release, and the police responded with tear gas. But some attackers were armed with guns, witnesses and security officials said.

President Mohammed Morsi held an emergency meeting with his national defence council. The army, which had sent troops and armoured vehicles to Suez before dawn to help quell rioting related to the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, which killed nine people there on Friday, dispatched more forces to Port Said to help protect essential public facilities, including the city's Mediterranean port, the Suez Canal and the jail.

It was the third day of bloodshed in Egyptian streets. Clashes between protesters and the police continued Saturday in downtown Cairo and other cities around Friday's two-year anniversary of the uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president.

Defence officials said soldiers did not have the legal authorization to quash the Port Said riot. And Interior Ministry officials said their security forces were unable to stop the violence and pleaded for civilian leaders to intervene.

"The solution isn't a security solution," Gen Osama Ismail, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said in a television interview. "We urge the political and patriotic leaders and forces to intervene to calm the situation."

Several residents of Port Said said in telephone interviews they were afraid to leave their homes because of the violence and gunfire in the streets.

The case that set off the riot grew out of a deadly brawl last February between rival groups of hardcore fans of soccer teams from Cairo and Port Said at a match in that city. The hardcore fans, called ultras, are known for their appetite for violence, against rival teams or the police. And some had smuggled knives and other weapons into the stadium, security officials said at the time.

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