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Riots rage in Egypt over death sentences

PORT SAID, Egypt, Jan. 26 (UPI) — At least 30 people were dead and 300 were injured as riots raged in the Egyptian city of Port Said after 21 soccer fans were sentenced to death, officials said.

By nightfall Saturday, the city of 600,000 people was in chaos, The New York Times reported, with most residents afraid to leave their homes. At 8 p.m., the military said troops had secured the Suez Canal, the port and other critical facilities.

The rioting was sparked by the sentences handed down after the verdict on 21 fans charged with a riot at a match between Port Said and Cairo that left 74 dead and 1,000 injured. The trial was moved to Cairo because of fears of violence.

Saturday’s unrest marred the second anniversary of the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak. The current president, Mohamed Morsi, planned to address the restive nation by television Saturday, Egyptian media said.

Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the crowd as it attempted to break into the Port Said prison where most of the defendants were being held, Ahram Online reported.

A police dorm was looted and set on fire. A police station and a television news minivan were also torched.

“All the shops are closed, and the city is under complete paralysis,” a midtown hotelier who declined to give his name told the Washington Post.

Three executives and nine security guards of the al-Masry soccer team were among the 73 defendants charged in the soccer riot deaths. The rest of the defendants expect to hear their verdicts in March.

Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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