Thousands storm ministry in protest at match deaths

Cairo football fans say Port Said catastrophe was reprisal for their part in revolution

Port Said

Egypt was thrust into a fresh crisis last night as security forces fired tear gas at protesters who returned to the streets of Cairo to demonstrate against the deaths of 74 football supporters on Wednesday.

In an emotionally charged day that followed Egypt's worst-ever sporting disaster, exacerbated by charges that security forces stood by and allowed rival fans to clash, nearly 10,000 gathered in Tahrir Square and outside the Interior Ministry, with some ripping down barbed wire around the building.

Resentment grew throughout the day as "ultra" supporters from Cairo's Al-Ahly – one of Africa's most successful football clubs – returned to the capital after Wednesday night's violence in Port Said that led to the club's fans being crushed to death trying to escape from the home Al-Masry supporters.

Hardcore groups of supporters of both Cairo's main clubs – Al-Ahly and Zamalek – were at the vanguard of those taking part in last year's revolution. "They want to punish us and execute us for our participation in the revolution against suppression," said the Al-Ahly ultras in a statement, vowing a "new war in defence of the revolution".The protests had started as a peaceful march from Al-Ahly's headquarters to the area outside the ministry building near Tahrir Square.

Security forces guarding the area were separated from protesters by concrete blocs and barbed wire, but tensions rose as protesters advanced toward them, removing some of the barriers and hurling stones. Police responded with heavy tear gas, sending demonstrators running. There were reports last night that gunshots had also been heard.

In scenes reminiscent of the clashes with police in November which left 40 people dead, protesters set tyres alight and motorcycles ferried some of those wounded to hospital as ambulances were unable to get through. As many as 400 were reported to have been injured in the clashes. Egyptian state TV said 100 people passed out from the tear gas.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the protesters had cut the barbed wire and crossed over the concrete blocks to reach the roads leading to the headquarters. It urged the protesters "to listen to the sound of wisdom... at these critical moments".

In Port Said, it was becoming clear how so many people ended up dying when home supporters charged onto the pitch following their team's 3-1 victory. One of the main exits in the stadium's eastern end – a narrow, downward-sloping stepped corridor about 12ft wide – was padlocked shut with a ceiling-high iron gate throughout the match.

As Al-Masry supporters charged towards the stand after the final whistle – many wielding sticks and knives – thousands of visiting Cairo fans fled into the corridor, the only way out for half of the people at the eastern end.

Doctors in Port Said yesterday told The Independent that most of those who perished in the crush died of asphyxiation. Hundreds more were rushed to hospital suffering from multiple fractures, caused as masses of people scrambled to escape the frenzy.

"It was terrible," said Dr Mohammad Salah, who was working at Port Said's El-Amiri Hospital on Wednesday night. "All of these people are Egyptian. They don't deserve to die."

According to one health ministry official, all of the deaths were caused by stab wounds, brain haemorrhage and concussions, but Dr Salah said none of the 31 bodies which arrived at his hospital had knife injuries. The interior ministry said one policeman was killed while a health official in Port Said claimed 1,000 people had been injured.

As stadium workers surveyed the carnage yesterday, employees pointed out pools of dried blooded on the stairs of the east stand exit corridor. Laying on the floor were the 12ft-high iron gates, their six-inch hinges ripped out. Dozens of shoes littered the hallway, torn off their owners as they tried to escape.

Ahmad Osama, 23, a car mechanic, was in the same stand as the Al-Masry supporters who charged on to the field after the final whistle. "They weren't here to watch the football," he said, adding that many of the home fans wanted revenge for pre-match violence which marred the same fixture last year. "They just wanted violence."

Suggested Topics
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
people
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting

£400 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting ...

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices