Struggle Outside Soccer Match Kills 22 in Cairo

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A police car was set on fire during clashes between soccer fans and security forces in front of a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo on February 8, 2015. Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper/Reuters

CAIRO (Reuters) - Twenty-two people were killed outside an Egyptian soccer match on Sunday when security forces barred fans from entering the stadium, the public prosecutor's office said.

Most of the dead were suffocated when the crowd stampeded after police used teargas to clear the fans trying to force their way into a league match between two Cairo clubs, Zamalek and Enppi, doctors and witnesses said.

Soccer matches are often a flashpoint for violence in Egypt, where 72 fans were killed at a match in Port Said in February 2012. Since then Egypt has curbed the number of people allowed to attend, and supporter groups have often tried to storm stadiums they are banned from entering.

Outside a Cairo hospital treating the injured, scores of youths wearing Zamalek T-shirts looked dazed with shock as families arrived to see if their relatives were safe.

One mother cried and shouted when she found the name of her son on a list of the dead posted by hospital staff.

"I'd told him: Leave soccer matches," she said.

Relations between security forces and fan groups, known as Ultras, have been tense since the 2011 popular uprising that ended the rule of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, in which the Ultras played a key role.

"Huge numbers of Zamalek club fans came to Air Defense Stadium to attend the match...and tried to storm the stadium gates by force, which prompted the troops to prevent them from continuing the assault," the interior ministry said.

The public prosecution ordered the arrest of the leaders of the Zamalek supporters group, Ultras White Knights, after Sunday's incident, official media reported.

On their Facebook page, the Ultras White Knights described the 22 dead as "martyrs" and accused security forces of a "massacre."

Despite the violence, the match went ahead and ended with a 1-1 draw. Some media speculated that the government could cancel the national league championship in light of Sunday's violence.

Struggle Outside Soccer Match Kills 22 in Cairo | World