Egypt's presidency mourns as at least 19 Zamalek fans killed in clashes with police

Ahram Online , Monday 9 Feb 2015

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi affirmed the importance of completing the investigations to uncover the circumstances and determine the culprits

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt's presidency mourned on Monday the victims of the "unfortunate events" that took place on Sunday as 19 Zamalek Ultras White Knights (UWK) died as police dispersed large crowds attempting to make their way to attend a football match in the Egyptian Premier League.

"Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is monitoring the developments of the situation with the prime minister and a number of his cabinet," a presidency press communiqué read.

The president affirmed the importance of completing the investigations to uncover the circumstances and determining the culprits, the statement added.

El-Sisi also stressed the necessity of taking the needed measures to ensure that these events won't be repeated, and providing complete protection for the citizens.

A Health Ministry statement said 19 fans died in the clashes, while the prosecution released a statement saying 22 died.  

Following the incident, Egypt's cabinet suspended the league for an indefinite period.

The Egyptian interior ministry said the clashes occurred after Ultras White Knights members tried to attend the game without buying tickets.

"The Zamalek fans tried to get in by force, and we had to prevent them from damaging public property," the ministry said in a statement.

Ultras White Knights disputed the ministry's account, saying they were tear-gassed as many fans scrambled to get inside Cairo's Air Defence Stadium, with a "tiny metal fence surrounded by barbed wire being the only gate opened for us."

Eyewitnesses at the scene said the police didn't start dispersing the crowd using water cannons, which is the standard procedure according to the protest law, and instead used teargas.

The match went ahead despite the deadly clashes but Zamalek's full-back Omar Gaber, a favourite figure among the ultras, withdrew in support of the fans.

Gaber was later suspended indefinitely by Zamalek Club's Chairman Mortada Mansour.

This is the deadliest football-incident since the infamous Port Said disaster in February 2012, which left over 70 Ahly Club supporters dead.

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