VIDEO: Dozens killed, hundreds wounded in clash after Egyptian soccer match
A soccer match turned deadly in Port Said, Egypt on Wednesday after the local team lost and soccer fans invaded the field and started rioting. At least 73 people are dead and a thousand more wounded. The death toll is expected to climb.
Egyptians are trying to make sense of a soccer match that turned incredibly violent Wednesday night in Port Said, a city of 600,000 along the Mediterranean Sea, near the Sinai Peninsula.
According to various media reports, at least 73 people have died and more than 1,000 were wounded after a riot started when the Al-Ahly team beat the hometown Al-Masry team 3-1.
The death could rise to more than 150, the BBC said, as security officials try to rescue the injured and recover the dead from the body. There were reports that the Army was called in to provide helicopters to ferry the Al-Ahly team to safety.
It is the biggest disaster in the country's soccer history, said the Egyptian deputy health minister, according to the BBC.
"This is unfortunate and deeply saddening," Hesham Sheiha told state television.
And while the Associated Press reports that some of the dead are security forces, the BBC is reporting that security forces may have actively engaged the Al-Ahly fans, seeking retribution for their actions in recent democracy protests.
"They have been heavily implicated in confronting the police during political recent political protests," the BBC reported.
According to The New York Times, soccer fans, known as ultras, have been some of the most extreme members of protests — active since the first days of the revolution last January. In recent months, the actions of ultras have been blamed for an attack on the Israeli Embassy as well, the Times said.
They've proven to be an unpredictable element of the ongoing protests as Egypt struggles to complete its democratic transition.
"They joined a weeklong battle with security forces near Tahrir Square that left more than 40 dead in November, and another outburst of street fighting near the cabinet building in which more than 15 people died in December," the Times wrote.
On social platforms, many activists have pointed to the seeming inaction of security forces — failing to hold back the crowds or stop the riots — as being part of the reason the clashes escalated so dramatically.
A parliamentarian from Port Said speaking to the BBC blamed the current military leadership and its ties to deposed President Hosni Mubarak for allowing this violence and death to occur.