Riots over Egyptian death sentences kill at least 32

Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:13pm EST
 

By Yusri Mohamed and Yasmine Saleh

PORT SAID, Egypt/CAIRO (Reuters) - At least 32 people were killed on Saturday 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 Mohamed Mursi.

Armored vehicles and military police fanned through the streets of Port Said, where gunshots rang out and protesters burned tires 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 41.

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 Defense Council, which is led by Mursi and includes the defense 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 National Salvation Front of liberal-minded groups and other Mursi opponents cautiously welcomed the call.

THREATS OF VIOLENCE   Continued...

 
A protester opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi gestures at riot police during clashes along Mohamed Mahmoud street which leads to the Interior Ministry, near Tahrir Square in Cairo January 26, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh