Egypt protesters block access to port, demand justice

ISMAILIA, Egypt Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:24pm IST

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ISMAILIA, Egypt (Reuters) - Thousands of Egyptian protesters blocked access to the harbour and rallied outside state buildings in Port Said on Sunday to demand justice over the deaths of dozens of people killed in riots last month.

That violence was triggered by anger over the death sentences handed down to 21 people from Port Said for their involvement in a soccer stadium disaster in the city a year ago in which more than 70 people were killed.

Sunday's day of "civil disobedience" was called by hardcore soccer fans from Port Said's al-Masry, the club that had been playing a home match against Cairo's Al Ahly when the stadium disaster occurred in February 2012.

Witnesses said around 3,000 people took part in the protest, demanding the death sentence for those responsible for the January 26 violence set off by a verdict read out in Cairo.

"With our lives, with our blood, we will sacrifice ourselves to you martyrs: Either we avenge you or we die like you!" they chanted.

"The disobedience will last for one day and could continue if the protesters' calls for the death sentence for the killers of martyrs are not granted," said Ahmad Mutwalli, a political activist in Port Said.

The protesters also disrupted train services. But General Ahmed Najeeb, head of the General Authority of Port Said, said the protest had not affected shipping activity at the Mediterranean port.

Port Said was one of three provinces near the Suez Canal where President Mohamed Mursi declared a 30-day state of emergency in response to last month's unrest.

(Reporting by Yousri Mohamed; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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