Port Said (Egypt): Thousands of Egyptians of the restive Suez Canal city of Port Said rallied on Monday in a funeral procession for civilians killed during street battles with police, as the military deployed soldiers to secure the gathering.
Fighting throughout the day yesterday killed three policemen and three civilians as protesters pelted police forces with rocks and firebombs and the force responded with tear gas, and birdshot, while military troops got caught in the middle trying to stop the violence, according to witnesses -- the first time since the city was gripped by turmoil since late January.
Thousands gathered outside a city mosque and performed prayers for the dead today. They then began processions carrying the coffins one after another to the cemetery, chanting, "the martyr is the beloved of God" and waving the black-white-and-green flags of Port Said that have become a symbol of the city`s revolt against the government.
Military police cars roamed the area and military armoured vehicles lined up streets leading to the cemetery.
"We want retribution," the gathering chanted. "It is now war between us and you, Interior Ministry."
One protester raised a banner reading: "I came to die for freedom, Port Said."
Port Said, on the Mediterranean coast at the mouth of the Suez Canal, has been in turmoil since late January, when a Cairo court issued death sentences against 21 people, most residents of the city, for involvement in Egypt`s deadliest soccer riot in February 2012. The verdicts sparked angry protests in the city, which turned into deadly clashes with police, leaving more than 40 dead, including two policemen.