Egypt: Policeman Killed in Port Said Unrest

A policeman was killed in Port Said after the authorities decided to move prisoners awaiting a verdict over involvement in a soccer riot.

Elad Benari ,

Protesters opposing Morsi shout slogans in th
Protesters opposing Morsi shout slogans in th

A policeman was killed Sunday and an army officer was wounded in Egypt's city of Port Said, the army said, after the authorities decided to move prisoners awaiting a verdict over alleged involvement in a deadly soccer riot.

AFP quoted the Egyptian military as having said the policeman died and the military officer was hit in the leg when they were struck by gunshots fired by unknown assailants outside the headquarters of the Port Said governorate in northeast Egypt.

A health ministry bulletin earlier said 253 people were injured in the clashes.

The court verdict, expected next Saturday, is for the remaining 39 defendants in a case which resulted in death sentences in January for 21 defendants, sparking clashes that killed at least 40 people.

A security official said earlier that protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at the police station in the restive Suez Canal city, where a general strike entered its third week. Police responded with tear gas.

The interior ministry said it decided to move prisoners from Port Said, starting with the 39 remaining defendants over the February 2012 soccer violence, because it wanted to avoid unrest.

Last year's soccer riot which killed 74 people, mostly supporters of a visiting Cairo team, exacerbated Port Said's isolation, residents of the city say.

Protesters on Saturday torched a police station in Port Said and prevented fire engines from reaching the blaze, AFP reported.

Residents of Port Said and other canal cities have long complained that Cairo marginalizes them.

Since a November decree that pushed through an Islamist-drafted constitution, Egypt has been deeply divided between Morsi's Islamist supporters and a wide-ranging opposition that accuses the president of betraying the uprising that brought him to office and consolidating power in the hands of his Muslim Brotherhood.

President Mohammed Morsi recently called parliamentary elections starting April 27, but the date was later changed to April 22 so that it doesn’t conflict with the Christian Easter holiday.

The lower house was elected early last year, with Islamists winning an overwhelming majority. But in June the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled it invalid, saying there were irregularities in the electoral law.

Protests by Egyptians, who accuse Morsi of betraying the revolution that brought him to power, have often turned into violent and sometimes deadly clashes with police.