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Morsi declares state of emergency

Posted on Jan 28, 06:43PM | IBNS

Amid violence that left at least 40 dead in Egypt, the state of emergency and curfew declared by President Mohammed Morsi in three cities along the Suez Canal in the country will come to affect from Monday, reports said.

In a televised address on Sunday, Morsi declared that curfew will be imposed in three cities- Port Said, Suez and Ismalia from Monday.

The curfew will be imposed in the cities 9pm to 6am for 30 days.

"I have said I am against any emergency measures but I have said that if I must stop bloodshed and protect the people, then I will act," Morsi was quoted as saying in his address by BBC.

"If I must, I will do much more for the sake of Egypt. This is my duty and I will not hesitate," he said.

"Morsi has invited opposition politicians to a 'national dialogue' meeting on Monday," BBC reported.

At the weekend, several people lost their lives during protests in Port Said city after a court on Saturday pronounced death sentences to 21 fans accused of igniting the last year's fierce football riot in the Mediterranean city.

Reports suggest that more than 300 people were injured in the northeastern city of Port Said as the convicts' kin clashed with authorities outside a prison, where their kin were being held.

Violence continued in Port Said on Sunday when seven people were shot dead, taking the toll to at least 40.

Judge Sobhi Abdel-Maguid reportedly did not give his reasoning as he pronounced the verdicts for the 21 accused out of the 73 defendants on Saturday.

The verdict for the remaining 52 defendants, including nine security officials, charged with murder and assisting the attackers is scheduled to be delivered Mar 9.

However, the verdicts are not final as death sentences are required to be approved by Egypt's grand mufti, which is largely a procedural formality.

Defendants are also granted a chance to appeal for their sentences, which could take years to carry out.

Police had reportedly sealed off Port Said, and the army was deployed to "restore stability".

On Feb 1, 2012, at least 74 people were killed in the riot, which followed the final whistle in a game between Port Said-based al-Masry and the Cairo-based al-Ahly.

Al-Masry fans, after winning the match, pelted stones, bottles and fireworks at al-Ahly supporters.

According to witnesses, police at the stadium did nothing to stop the violence, which eventually resulted into days of violent protests in the capital Cairo.

Two months later, Egypt's general prosecutor charged 75 people with "premeditated murder and attempted murder," while three Al-Masry officials and nine police officers were charged with "assisting the murderers."

According to the prosecutor's office, the Al-Masry group was well aware of the assault before and didn't confiscate weapons in advance.

The electricity engineer, who was also charged, turned off the lights directly over the bleachers where the Al-Ahly fans were sitting, right after the Al-Masry team won by 3-1 margin.

Many died after falling from bleachers inside the stadium, while others suffocated.

The Saturday's violence comes in when Egypt was already a hotbed of deadly protests that marked the second anniversary of the revolution that toppled longtime Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

According to reports, at least ten people were killed on Friday in anti-government protests in Suez and Ismailia, and more than 470 people were injured.

Morsi, had to deploy the army in Suez to restore order.

On Saturday, police fired teargas in the city when protesters agitated at Friday's deaths, hurled petrol bombs and stormed a police post and other governmental buildings including the agriculture and social solidarity units.

Around 18 prisoners in Suez police stations managed to escape during the violence, and some 30 police weapons were stolen, said reports.