Shots were fired Sunday at the funeral of people killed in clashes that erupted in Egypt’s northeastern city of Port Said, following a court verdict that sentenced 21 fans of a local football club to death.
Thousands participated in the funeral procession after noon prayers when loud gunfire sent mourners running in several directions amid chaotic scenes.
Army troops backed by armored vehicles staked out positions at key government facilities to protect state interests and try to restore order as hundreds of mourners gathered at the city’s main mosque to offer prayers for the dead.
There was no police presence securing Sunday’s funeral in the canal city, where shops and businesses remained closed for a second day, state television reported according to AFP.
On Saturday, angry residents went on a rampage through Port Said after a court handed down death sentences to almost two dozen local fans involved in a deadly melee at a soccer game last year. The rioters attacked the prison where the defendants were being held and tried to storm police stations and government offices around the city.
As the situation in Port Said spiraled out of control Saturday, police disappeared from the city’s streets, residents and security officials said, staying put in their camps, police stations and the city’s security headquarters.
The military then dispatched troops to the city, which is located on the northern tip of the Suez Canal. Soldiers took up positions at vital state facilities, including the local power and water stations, the city’s main courthouse, the local government building and the city prison.
As of Sunday, the death toll in Port Said piled to at least 36 peopl being killed, reported Al Arabiya.
The street clashes in Port Said were the latest in a bout of unrest across the country that has left a total of 48 people dead since Friday. That death toll includes 11 people killed in clashes between police and protesters marking the second anniversary of the uprising that overthrew longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.
On Sunday, clashes continued for the fourth successive day between protesters and police near Cairo’s central Tahrir square, birthplace of the 2011 uprising. Police used tear gas, while the protesters pelted them with rocks.
Also, clashes erupted early Sunday in Zagazig, an area northern Cairo, between supporters and foes of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, reported Al Arabiya.
The European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Saturday expressed “great concern” over the deadly street clashes in Egypt’s Port Said, urging officials to restore calm.
“It is with great concern that the High Representative heard about the violent clashes in Port Said leaving several people killed,” Ashton’s spokesperson said in a statement.
“She also urges the Egyptian authorities to restore calm and order and calls on all sides to show restraint in the best interest of the country at this delicate time in its democratic transition.”