CAIRO – Relatives and angry young men rampaged through the Egyptian city of Port Said on Saturday in assaults that killed at least 27 people following death sentences for local fans involved in the country’s worst bout of soccer violence.
Unrest surrounding the second anniversary of Egypt’s revolution also broke out in Cairo and other cities for a third day, with protesters clashing for hours with riot police who fired tear gas that encompassed swaths of the capital’s downtown.
The divisive verdict and bloodshed highlight challenges being faced by President Mohammed Morsi, who took office seven months ago following an Egyptian revolution that ousted autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.
Critics say Morsi has failed to carry out promised reforms in the country’s judiciary and police force, and claim little has improved in the two years after the uprising against Mubarak.
The military was deployed to Port Said hours after the verdict was announced and warned that a curfew could be declared in areas of unrest.
Survivors and witnesses said Mubarak loyalists had a hand in instigating last year’s attack, which began Feb. 1 after Port Said’s home team Al-Masry won a match 3-1 against Cairo’s Al-Ahly. Some say hired thugs wearing green T-shirts posing as Al-Masry fans led the attacks.
Others say, at the very least, police were responsible for gross negligence in the soccer brawl that killed 74 Al-Ahly fans.