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Egypt

Football death sentences prompt more violence in Egypt

The Egyptian Health Ministry has reported that 30 have been killed and more than 300 injured in unrest in Port Said. The unrest followed a court's sentencing 21 people to death for their roles in a deadly football riot.

Egypt's Health Ministry announced on Saturday that 30 people were killed, two of them policemen, and around 300 injured in clashes in the northern coastal city of Port Said.

The ministry reported that many of the casualties were caused by gunfire and tear gas. Local media reported that two footballers, one of whom played for al-Masry, were among the dead.

The violence followed a Cairo court's sentencing 21 supporters of the local al-Masry football team to death for their roles in a major football riot in the city last February. The clashes during a game against the Cairo club al-Ahly claimed 74 lives.

Another 52 defendants are being tried over the February incident, with the Cairo court judge saying they would be sentenced on March 9.

Al-Masry fans and families of the defendants said the case was politically motivated - with no police or al-Ahly supporters sentenced on Saturday. All the defendants have the right to appeal.

The al-Ahly club and its fans were closely tied to the protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak two years ago. The verdict was met with celebrations among victims' families and al-Ahly supporters in Cairo (pictured above).

Government urges calm amid frequent fighting

Egypt's national defense council, headed by President Mohammed Morsi, issued a statement urging calm on national television.

Information Minister Salah Abdel Maqsud read out the statement in which the council called for dialogue among "independent national figures" to try to settle tensions and agree on a deal to facilitate scheduled parliamentary elections. On Saturday, the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, threatened to boycott the ballot unless Morsi could find a "comprehensive solution" to the unrest.

Violence in Egypt after football verdicts

The statement also called on people in Egypt "to maintain the peaceful nature of expression," a request that might not only relate to Saturday's violence in Port Said.

Nine people were killed in Egypt on Friday when protesters took to the streets to mark the second anniversary of the uprising that toppled Mubarak, with opponents of Morsi demanding more change in the country. The Interior Ministry announced that 95 police officers were injured in Friday's unrest - centered primarily in the capital, Cairo.

msh/mkg (AFP, AP, dpa)

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