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Egypt's Ultras Ahlawy assaulted before scheduled press conference

Attack occurs minutes before scheduled press conference at which Ultras had promised to reveal 'secrets' pertaining to February's Port Said stadium disaster

Hatem Maher, Tuesday 17 Jul 2012
Ultras  Ahlawy
File photo: Ultras Ahlawy (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Some 2000 members of Egypt's Ultras Ahlawy – hard-core fans of the Ahly football club – were attacked on Tuesday by unknown assailants in front of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate's Cairo headquarters only minutes before they were due to hold a press conference at which they had promised to reveal "secrets" about February's Port Said stadium disaster.

"Some people, out of nowhere, attacked the Ultras with bottles and stones," a syndicate security guard who declined to be named told Ahram Online. "We also heard shotgun discharges."

He added: "The subsequent clashes lasted for around 30 minutes resulting in some minor injuries. The Ultras then returned to Ahly club headquarters."

The Ultras Ahlawy consequently called off the scheduled news conference amid growing tension between members and Egyptian authorities.

The Ultras had staged a protest march earlier in the day from the Ahly club's headquarters in Cairo's Al-Gezeera district to the journalists syndicate, causing traffic congestion on the 6 October Bridge.

Members of the Ultras Ahlawy remain angry over what they see as the authorities' reluctance to punish the culprits of Egypt's worst-ever football tragedy, which left dozens dead and hundreds injured in February.

Last Thursday, they incurred the wrath of Ahly's board of directors after storming a stadium during a team training session, forcing team coach Hossam El-Badry to cancel the training.

The board later condemned fans' behaviour in a strongly-worded statement, asserting that they had taken sufficient measures to preserve the rights of the families of Port Said victims.

Their cause was not helped, however, by the families' collective decision not to attend a meeting with Ahly board members on Sunday, in which club officials had promised to tell them what progress had been made in the case.

A number of security officials and fans of Egypt's Masry football club currently face charges of negligence and premeditated murder, respectively, for their alleged roles in February's disaster.

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