Dozens arrested on anniversary of deadly Egypt soccer riot

AP News
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Posted: Feb 01, 2017 4:23 PM

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian security forces arrested dozens in central Cairo on Wednesday, the anniversary of a soccer riot that killed over 70 fans in 2012.

Lawyer Mokhtar Mounir told The Associated Press that over 80 people were taken into custody, with some arrests made near the club grounds belonging to the Al-Ahly team.

Most of the victims of the rioting five years ago were fans of Al-Ahly. The rioting was Egypt's worst soccer disaster to date and one of the world's deadliest.

The lawyer said the police likely made the arrests Wednesday on suspicion those detained had planned to stage a protest. Public gatherings without a permit are banned under Egypt's draconian anti-terrorism laws.

Mounir said the detainees were undergoing security checks and officials would determine whether to release them or press charges. In 2015, a court declared Al-Ahly's hardcore "Ultras Ahlawy" fan group a terrorist organization.

The arrests came as Egyptians gathered in cafes all over the country to watch the national team play Burkina Faso in the first semifinals match of the African championship in Gabon. At least a dozen police and security forces' vehicles as well as armed troops were stationed near the Al-Ahly club grounds in the evening Wednesday.

In 2015, an Egyptian criminal court in the Mediterranean city of Port Said sentenced 11 people to death over the riot. No officials or security personnel were among the convicted. A court is set to review the appeals of the convicted later this month.

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This story has been corrected to note that Egypt was playing Burkina Faso in the first semifinals match of the African championship in Gabon.