Fifty wounded in Egypt port city as police battle protesters

PORT SAID, Egypt Tue Mar 5, 2013 10:33am EST

1 of 4. A protester, opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, throws a tear gas canister, earlier thrown by the riot police, during clashes in front of Security Directorate in Port Said city, 170 km (105 miles) northeast of Cairo March 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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PORT SAID, Egypt (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces battled stone-throwing youths in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on Tuesday while in Cairo police took to the streets to protest, reflecting a country beset by discontent over a host of grievances.

By far the most serious trouble was in Port Said, at the canal's northern entrance, where fifty people were wounded in clashes between police and hundreds of protesters in a third day of unrest.

Security forces shot into the air and fired teargas at the protesters gathered in front of a local government building in the city.

One young man was shot in the head and was in a serious condition, said Helmi al-Afni, undersecretary at the Ministry of Health in Port Said. A Reuters witness said he had seen at least three people who appeared unconscious.

"The police are thugs," the protesters chanted. "We'll give our blood and souls for you, Port Said."

Live footage on Al Jazeera's Egypt channel showed dozens of men running and throwing rocks as black smoke rose in front of a building's charred facade. Tear gas canisters streaked through the air.

Egypt has been in political turmoil since a popular uprising ousted Hosni Mubarak as president in 2011. His Islamist successor, Mohamed Mursi, has struggled to restore security since his election in June.

Joblessness worsened by an economic crisis, anger at police brutality and fuel price rises have helped fuel the unrest.

Port Said has seen waves of violent demonstrations since January over the detention of dozens of people in connection with a soccer riot last year in which more than 70 died.

At least six people have been killed in the latest wave of protests in the Mediterranean city, including three policemen. Hundreds more have been wounded, scores of them from gunshot wounds and live bullets, according to medical officials.

About 60 people died during street protests across Egypt between January 25, the anniversary of the 2011 uprising, to February 4. Many of the demonstrators were calling for Mursi's resignation, accusing him and his Muslim Brotherhood of trying to monopolize power.

In a sign of the broader discontent afflicting the country, dozens of police officers blocked a major road in Cairo to protest about the killing of a colleague by an unknown attacker while he was investigating a bank robbery earlier on Tuesday, the state news agency said.

(Writing by Asma Alsharif and Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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