At least seventy people have died and hundreds injured in clashes between fans of rival football teams in the Egyptian city of Port Said on Wednesday. The toll is likely to rise as the violence continued late in the evening.
Fans swarmed the field throwing stones and bottles when the fighting escalated. Though Field Marshal and acting President Mohamed Hussein Tantawi sent security forces to quell the violence, they will have a tough time stopping a field covered with angry young men. The unrest could well spread to the street and last through the night.
The riots come two days after a rare bank robbery. A branch of HSBC in New Cairo was hit by unknown robbers who made off with one million Egyptian pounds. HSBC reaffirmed its commitment to security but can it do so in today’s Egypt?
Violence in Egypt seems to be on the rise. The once disarmed population is gradually growing accustomed to hearing gunshots. Some locals say it is the police, shooting off rounds every few nights to scare people although I can report that I have seen young men in an alley with a handgun. A variety of anecdotes and rumors float around. Uncertainty is in the air.
The Sinai Peninsula is said to be in chaos. Bedouin kidnapped 25 Chinese workers on Tuesday. They were released the next day, unharmed. The terrorist attack on Israel’s resort of Eliat in August originated in the Sinai.
It is still early to make pronouncements on Egypt’s future stability. Nevertheless, the perception among many Egyptians is that, since the beginning of the revolution, street violence has increased.