Egyptians incensed by the deaths of 74 people in clashes at a soccer stadium staged protests on Thursday as fans and politicians accused the ruling generals of failing to prevent the deadliest incident since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.
Young men blocked roads near the state television building and the landmark Tahrir Square,and a crowd gathered at Cairos main rail station hoping to see relatives returning from the game in Port Said.
As covered bodies from Egypts worst soccer disaster were unloaded from trains,thousands chanted Down with military rule.
Where is my son? screamed Fatma Kamal,whose frantic phone calls seeking news of her 18-year-old had gone unanswered. To hell with the football match… Give me back my boy.
At least 1,000 people were injured in the violence late on Wednesday when soccer fans invaded the pitch in the Mediterranean city after local team al-Masry beat visitors from Cairos Al Ahli,Egypts most successful club.
Hundreds of al-Masry supporters surged across the pitch to the visitors end and panicked Ahli fans dashed for the exit. But the steel doors were bolted shut and dozens were crushed to death in the stampede,witnesses said.
Angry politicians denounced a thin security presence given the tense build-up to the match and accused Egypts military leaders of allowing,or even causing,the fighting.
Parliament was holding an emergency session to discuss the violence. The Muslim Brotherhood,which dominates the assembly,said an invisible hand was behind the tragedy.
The Interior Ministry blamed the violence on a section of the crowd which it said had deliberately set out to cause anarchy,a riot,and a stampede.
Hundreds gathered near the stadium in Port Said on Thursday,chanting: Port Said people are innocent. This is a conspiracy.
Activists called a march at 4 pm local time from Al Ahlis club ground in central Cairo to the interior ministry to protest against what one minister said was Egypts worst soccer disaster.
The military council wants to prove that the country is heading towards chaos and destruction. They are Mubaraks men. They are applying his strategy when he said choose me or choose chaos, said Mahmoud el-Naggar,30,a laboratory technician and member of the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth in Port Said.
Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi,76,who heads the ruling military council,took the unusual step of speaking by telephone to a television channel owned by Al Ahli,vowing to track down the culprits. The army announced three days of national mourning.
I deeply regret what happened at the football match in Port Said. I offer my condolences to the victims families, Tantawi said.