Police station torched as fighting engulfs Egyptian city

Egyptians on Saturday carry the body of a person killed in clashes between police and protesters in the city of Mansoura.

Story highlights

  • Kerry focuses on the importance of democracy, economy
  • People gathered at a Port Said police station and threw rocks and Molotov cocktails
  • There has long been tense ties between Port Said and Cairo
  • There has also been unrest in another city, Mansoura
Soccer fans in the restive Egyptian city of Port Said clashed with security forces and torched a police station Saturday, the Interior Ministry said.
At least 10 people were injured in the fighting, the latest over the last year. Violent clashes in Port Said have highlighted the longstanding resentment residents there feel toward Cairo and President Mohamed Morsy.
The Green Ultras -- fans of the city's al-Masry football club long in the middle of political violence -- threw rocks at police vehicles that were transporting prisoners from jail to a court for their hearing.
After the incident, about 500 people gathered in front of a police station. They threw rocks and Molotov cocktails and set fire to the building. The people also prevented emergency vehicles from arriving at the scene to help put out the fire. The Interior Ministry said the situation is now under control.
The violence comes during a civil disobedience movement in the runup to a March 9 final verdict for people involved in deadly clashes after Port Said-based al-Masry defeated Cairo's al-Ahry 3-1 in a February 2012 soccer game.
The fighting, dubbed the massacre at Port Said, left 74 dead and 1,000 injured.
The history of tense relations between Port Said and Cairo dates back about 60 years, as residents of Port Said have felt betrayed by Egyptian security forces during a series of wars with Israel.
Thousands of residents were displaced several times because of the Suez War, the Six Day War of 1967, the War of Attrition with Israel, and the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.
Residents of Port Said, in the northeastern corner of the country, believed security forces did not adequately defend their city.
In addition, some say Cairo has not invested enough in Port Said's infrastructure, and that their city doesn't reap enough tax benefits from trade with international ships that pass though Port Said via the critical Suez Canal.
Some also contend that Port Said is still getting the cold shoulder from Cairo after a 1999 assassination attempt of then-President Hosni Mubarak, who was visiting the city.
Elsewhere, tensions flared in Mansoura, in the Nile Delta region.
Thousands poured into the streets for the funeral of Housam Abdelazim, killed Friday night in clashes between protesters and members of the security forces, the state-run Ahram news outlet said.
The death occurred when the forces were preventing an attack by protesters against a complex of buildings that houses Dakahliya provincial headquarters.
He was killed after a police vehicle drove over him, witnesses said. The security forces fired tear gas as the protesters threw Molotov cocktails and cut off roads leading to the provincial government buildings.
Kerry visits Egypt
A protest erupted in Cairo as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a visit to Egypt on Saturday, part of his first trip overseas as America's top diplomat.
Dozens of protesters in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs set on fire pictures of Kerry, according to the state-run MENA news outlet.
Other protesters laid on the ground at the front gate of the ministry. Some formed a human chain on a bridge leading to the ministry and held banners rejecting Kerry's visit to Egypt.
The demonstration caused congestion with many cars backed up on Corniche Nile Road. The protesters chanted anti-U.S. and anti-Israel slogans. This came before Kerry's meeting with Foreign Ministry Mohamed Kamel Amr.
His stopover comes amid political quarreling in Egypt. The Obama administration has been stressing to Morsy and other political figures the importance of political consensus.
Speaking at a meeting with business leaders, Kerry said it is "paramount, essential, urgent that the Egyptian economy get stronger, that it get back on its feet."
Kerry said that there needs to be a sense of security and an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to help jump-start the economy.
Kerry said he spoke with the leaders of Great Britain, France, Germany and Turkey and all want to be helpful "but all of them believe Egypt must make some fundamental economic choices."
Kerry met with Amre Moussa and Nabil El Araby, the former and current heads of the Arab League. He met with opposition leaders on Saturday, but state news said opposition leaders Hamdeen Sabahy and Mohamed Elbaradei decided not to meet with Kerry.
He will meet with representatives of non-governmental organizations and Morsy on Sunday. In his visit with Morsy, he will broach "very specific ways" in which Obama wants to help Egypt, including economic assistance, support for private business, increasing Egyptian exports to the United States and investing in education.
In remarks to reporters on Sunday, he reiterated the importance of economic and political strides.
"There must be a willingness on all sides" in Egypt to make "meaningful compromises," and Egyptians must stay focused on economic and political opportunities to succeed in forging a successful democracy. His visit comes as Egypt has been engulfed in political unrest for months.
He said the United States will help Egyptians achieve their aspirations for democracy and economic opportunity without interference.
"We come here as friends" of Egyptians, not favoring a particular group, person or ideology.
He said "the best way to ensure human rights" in the country is through the "broadest possible" political and economic participation.
Kerry also said he appreciated Morsy's role in helping bring about a cease-fire between Israel and militants in Gaza in fighting there last year.