Five killed in Egyptian clashes

Clashes in Port Said (03/03/13) Hundreds were injured in the clashes, which went on into the night

Five people - including two policemen - were killed when protesters and security forces clashed in the Egyptian city of Port Said, officials say.

At least 400 people were injured in the fighting overnight, officials said.

Port Said has been rocked by violence since January, when 21 local football fans were sentenced to death over deadly football riots in 2012.

Thousands of people joined the funeral procession on Monday for those killed in the clashes.

Angry mourners shouted anti-government slogans during the procession.

The latest violence comes at a time of heightened political tension in Egypt.

The country has been increasingly polarised between pro-Islamists and liberal and secular forces since Islamists swept to power in parliamentary and presidential elections last year.

Scores of people have died in clashes across the country this year amid protests against Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and grievances over the treatment of those convicted over the football riots.

'Bird-shot'

Fighting erupted in Port Said on Sunday morning when word spread that 39 defendants still facing trial over the 2012 football riots were being moved to outside the city, reports say.

Some 5,000 protesters clashed with police, hurling rocks and firebombs, the Associated Press news agency said. Riot police fired back with bird-shot and tear gas, the agency reported.

The interior ministry said at least one of the policemen who died had been shot.

The violence continued through the day and into the night. The army - which has stayed on the sidelines during other recent violence - moved in to separate the two sides but did not get actively involved, AP said.

The agency said protesters climbed on tanks, shouting: "The people and the army are one hand!", urging the military to take their side.

There has been widespread antagonism towards the police since the mass protests which brought down former President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.

Many people believe the police stood by, allowing the football riots which led to the deaths of 74 people, mainly supporters of Cairo's al-Ahly team, in revenge for their support for the anti-Mubarak protests.

A court is due to deliver verdicts against the 39 defendants on 9 March.

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