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Port Said: Clashes kill 30 after judge delivers verdict on last year's football riots (UPDATES)

Clashes in Port Said have killed at least 30 people after a judge sentenced 21 defendants in last year's football riots to death.

Port said riots egypt football 2012 03 24Enlarge
Egyptian riot policemen stand guard as a flare is thrown during a football match between al-Masry and al-Ahly in Port Said on February 1, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 30 people have died and more than 300 injured in clashes in Egypt's northeastern city of Port Said, the New York Times reported.

The riots were sparked after judges sentenced to death 21 people over last year's football riots, when at least 74 people were killed at the Port Said stadium. According to the Telegraph, police in Port Said have rained down tear gas on the protestors, who are armed with stones and petrol bombs.

Rioters attacked a power station, the governor's office and a local court house, the Associated Press reported.

Two policemen were also killed when relatives tried to break into the Port Said prison to free the defendants in the case, BBC News reported.

By 8 p.m., the Egyptian military said it had secured the prison, along with vital facilities including the Meditarranean port and the Suez canel, the New York Times reported. But fearful residents stayed inside, saying that rioters were still roaming the streets.

Last year, spectators of a football match between rival teams Al Ahly and Al Masry were crushed when clashes between the teams' fans broke out. A total of 73 people are standing trial, and the judge is expected to announce verdicts for the rest of the accused on March 9.

Saturday's unrest follows a day of violent protests across the country on the second anniversary of the protests that ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. At leasts seven people were killed and hundreds were injured after thousands of people gathered in the streets to voice their frustrations with Mohamad Morsi, the current president.

GlobalPost's correspondent Erin Cunningham reported from Cairo added that "both days of clashes signal a serious and ever-deepening mistrust in not only in the current government, but also in the judicial and security sectors to dispense impartial justice."

According to Associated Press, these cycles of violence have become commonplace in Egypt, often lasting for weeks and costing dozens of lives.  

Cunningham reported that "It is unclear whether or not Port Said would have kicked-off in the way that it has if the uprising anniversary demonstrations had remained peaceful in Cairo and other cities yesterday. But the residents of Port Said, including the families of the defendants sentenced today, hold the cynical view that the verdicts were politically aimed at tempering unrest in the capital at the expense of Port Said."

When the stadium erupted in violence last February as well, many people speculated that the violence had been incited by Mubarak's forces 

"If the army, which has reportedly been deployed to Port Said, can diffuse the crisis, then Morsi will emerge slightly less embattled. But as the battle rages, and the body count rises, Morsi is looking to Egyptians as less and less of an effectual leader," Cunningham said.  

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/130126/port-said-clashes-kill-22-after-judge-delivers-verdic