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13 June 2024

Egypt clashes enter fifth day


Protesters and police clashed again outside Cairo's security headquarters on Monday in the wake of deadly football violence and amid calls by activists for civil disobedience in Egypt.

Overnight, police fired birdshot at demonstrators in roads leading to the interior ministry, the scene of days of clashes sparked by the deaths of 74 people on Wednesday in football-related violence in the northern city of Port Said.

After a calm morning, clashes erupted again in the area, just blocks away from the capital's iconic Tahrir Square and government buildings, where protesters and police hurled rocks at each other, an AFP photographer said.

Activists blame the interior ministry and the ruling military council, which took power when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year, for failing to prevent the football violence.

Students from several universities and pro-democracy activists have called in a statement posted on the Internet for "a general strike and civil disobedience" on February 11, the anniversary of Mubarak's ouster.

In Cairo, police have erected several concrete block walls on roads leading to the ministry, which has become the nerve centre of the violence that has left 12 people dead since Thursday.

The interior minister accuses protesters of trying to storm the ministry building, which the demonstrators deny.

Wednesday's clashes in Port Said, pitting fans of home team Al-Masry against Cairo's Al-Ahly, marked one of the deadliest incidents in football history.

Protesters and several commentators accuse ex-members of the Mubarak regime -- many of whom are now in jail -- of seeking revenge for their fall from grace by instigating violence in the past 12 months, including the Port Said events.

On Sunday, the interior ministry said it was going to separate former regime members, including Mubarak's two sons, interior minister and other officials, and put them in five different prisons "in response to demands by protesters."

It said a medical wing was being set up in Cairo's southern suburb of Torah for Mubarak, who is now being held in a military hospital and facing trial on charges of involvement in the killing of protesters during last year's revolt.

The latest clashes come amid a spike in tensions between activists and the ruling military, which blames the unrest on a foreign plot.