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3 die in Egypt clashes as anger at deadly riot spills into second day

Khalil Hamra / AP

Protesters help a wounded man during clashes with security forces near the Interior Ministry in downtown Cairo on Friday.

Updated at 10:05 a.m. ET: CAIRO -- The Associated Press is reporting that police in Cairo fired salvos of tear gas and birdshot at rock-throwing protesters as popular anger over a deadly soccer riot spilled over into a second day of street violence that left three people dead and more than 1,500 injured, doctors and health officials said.

The protesters blame the police for failing to prevent the melee after a soccer match in the Mediterranean city of Port Said on Wednesday killed 74 people. The violence — the soccer world's worst in 15 years — has fueled anger at Egypt's ruling military generals and the already widely distrusted police force.


"I came down because what happened in Port Said was a political plan from the military to say it's either them or chaos,"  19-year-old Islam Muharram told The Associated Press.

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Demonstrators in Cairo, the city of Suez and several Nile Delta cities on Friday turned their anger on the military, calling for it to surrender power because of what they say is the ruling generals' mismanagement of the country's transition to democracy.

In the capital, protesters in helmets and gas masks hurled stones at riot police firing tear gas outside the Interior Ministry, which controls the police. The demonstrators say they don't want to storm the ministry, but to hold a sit-in in front of it to protest the soccer deaths.

More photos: Street battle rages near Egypt's Interior Ministry

Many protesters have suggested the authorities either instigated the Port Said violence or intentionally allowed it to happen to retaliate for the key role soccer fans known as Ultras had in clashes with security forces during the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.

The Cairo violence began late Thursday and escalated overnight, with protesters pushing through the barricades erected around the fortress-like ministry building and bringing down a wall of concrete blocks erected outside the ministry two months ago, after similar violence left more than 40 protesters dead.

The death toll from Friday's violence stood at three.

Thousands of people poured into Cairo's Tahrir Square, where tear gas was used to disperse the crowd. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Original post: Protesters laid siege to Egypt's Interior Ministry on Friday, pushing their protest against the military-led government into a second day in a show of anger triggered by the deaths of 74 people in the country's worst soccer disaster.

One person died in Cairo from a shotgun pellet wound and two were killed in the city of Suez as police used live rounds to hold back crowds trying to break into a police station, witnesses and the ambulance authority said.

The demonstrations erupted following the deaths at a soccer stadium in Port Said. Most of those killed were crushed to death in a stampede but protesters hold the military-led authorities responsible.

Story: 2 dead, 600 hurt in protests after soccer riot

Several thousand protesters threw rocks towards the ministry building in central Cairo through the night. Security forces fired tear gas but the protesters continually regrouped.

Of the few vehicles in the usually congested downtown area, most were ambulances that ferried casualties from the clashes.

By Friday morning, a hard core of demonstrators had heaved aside a concrete barrier blocking a main road near the ministry to take closer aim at the building. A Reuters witness heard firing and found gun pellets on the ground.

"We will stay until we get our rights. Did you see what happened in Port Said?" said 22-year-old Abu Hanafy, who arrived from work on Thursday evening and decided to join the protest.

PhotoBlog: Chaotic scenes as injured soccer fans return to Cairo

Revolutionary youth groups were calling for a mass weekend protest named the "Friday of Anger." By late morning, a few hundred people had joined protesters who slept overnight in Cairo's central Tahrir Square.

Ambulances had to intervene overnight to extract riot police whose truck took a wrong turn into a street full of protesters.

Protesters surrounded the vehicle for at least 45 minutes, rocking it while the police were inside. Some of the demonstrators then formed a human corridor to help them escape.

Close to 400 people have been hurt in the confrontations that erupted late on Thursday, the health ministry said, many of them suffering from inhaling tear gas fired by riot police who the Interior Ministry said were protecting the building.

Story: 'People are dying in front of us': Scores killed in riots after Egypt soccer match

 In Suez, witnesses said fighting broke out at a local police station in the early hours of Friday. "We received two corpses of protesters shot dead by live ammunition," said a doctor at a morgue where the bodies were kept.

A witness said: "Protesters are trying to break into the Suez police station and police are now firing live ammunition."

The soccer stadium deaths have heaped new criticism on the military council, which has governed Egypt since Mubarak stepped down a year ago in the face of mass protests. Critics regard them as part of his administration and an obstacle to change.

The army leadership, in turn, has presented itself as the guardian of the "January 25 revolution." It has promised to hand power to an elected president by the end of June.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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