Mohamed Morsi feels heat as three shot dead in Port Said

Egyptians carry the coffin of a man killed during a mass funeral in Port Said. Picture: AP
Egyptians carry the coffin of a man killed during a mass funeral in Port Said. Picture: AP
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THREE people were shot dead and hundreds were injured in Egypt’s Port Said yesterday during the funerals of 33 protesters killed at the weekend in the city, part of a wave of violence piling pressure on Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

An 18-year-old man and two other people were killed by gunshot wounds, Port Said’s head of hospitals, Abdel Rahman Farag, said. More than 416 people suffered from tear gas inhalation, while 17 sustained gunshot wounds, he said.

Gunshots had killed many of the 33 who died on Saturday when residents went on the rampage after a court sentenced 21 people, mostly from the Mediterranean port, to death for their role in deadly football violence at a stadium there last year.

Some in the crowd yesterday chanted for revenge or shouted anti-Morsi slogans. “Our soul and blood, we sacrifice to Port Said,” they said, as coffins were carried through the streets.

A military source said many people in Port Said possess guns. But it was not clear who was behind the deaths and injuries.

Elsewhere in Egypt, police fired tear gas at dozens of stone-throwing protesters in Cairo in a fourth day of clashes over what demonstrators there and in other cities say is a power grab by Islamists two years after Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.

The protesters accuse Mr Morsi, elected in June with the support of his Muslim Brotherhood group, of betraying the democratic goals of the revolution. Since protests began last Thursday, 45 people have been killed, mostly in Port Said and Suez, both cities where the army has now been deployed.

The violence adds to the daunting task facing Mr Morsi as he tries to fix a beleaguered economy and cool tempers before a parliamentary election expected in the next few months.

It has exposed a deep rift in the nation. Liberals and other opponents accuse Mr Morsi of failing to deliver on economic promises and say he has not lived up to pledges to represent all Egyptians. His backers say the opposition is seeking to topple Egypt’s first freely elected leader.

Although yesterday’s violence was less severe than the previous two days, Mr Morsi may have little respite. The opposition Popular Current and other groups have called for more protests today to mark what was one of the bloodiest days of the 2011 uprising.

“None of the revolution’s goals have been realised,” said Mohamed Sami, a protester in Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday.

“Prices are going up. The blood of Egyptians is being spilt in the streets because of neglect and corruption and because the Muslim Brotherhood is ruling Egypt for their own interests.”

On a bridge close to Tahrir Square, youths hurled stones at police in riot gear who fired tear gas to push them back towards the square, the cauldron of the uprising that erupted on 25 January, 2011 and toppled Mubarak 18 days later.

The National Defence Council, headed by Mr Morsi, called on Saturday for national dialogue to discuss political differences. That offer has been cautiously welcomed by the opposition National Salvation Front. But the coalition has demanded a clear agenda and guarantees that any agreements will be implemented.