Egypt police arrest more fans over soccer riot anniversary

Egyptians watch the Egypt vs Burkina Faso semi-final match of the Africa Cup of Nations being held in Gabon on a large screen television in a street in the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
Egyptians celebrate a goal during the Egypt vs Burkina Faso semi-final match of the Africa Cup of Nations being held in Gabon on a large screen television in a street in the Imbaba neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

CAIRO — Egyptian police took 37 soccer fans into custody overnight in Cairo after arresting 80 others the previous day on suspicion they had planned to stage a protest on the anniversary of a deadly 2012 soccer riot, a lawyer said Thursday.

According to the attorney, Mokhtar Mounir, it wasn't immediately clear why the additional arrests were made.

The 2012 soccer riot in the city of Port Said killed 73 fans — it was Egypt's worst soccer disaster and one of the world's deadliest. Most of the victims were fans of the Al-Ahly soccer club.

The hardcore Al-Ahly fans group known as "Ultras Ahlawy," banned by authorities, cancelled a planned commemoration after some of its members were arrested ahead of the anniversary. Five were charged with inciting protests and belonging to an outlawed group.

Public gatherings without a permit are banned under Egypt's draconian anti-terrorism laws. On Wednesday, Mounir said those detained were undergoing security checks and officials would determine whether to release them or press charges.

In 2015, an Egyptian court Ultras Ahlawy a terrorist organization.

Wednesday's arrests came as Egyptians had gathered in cafes across the country to watch the national team play Burkina Faso in the first semifinals match of the African Cup of Nations in Gabon. Egypt won 5-4 thanks to penalty shootout in Libreville, and will proceed to the final on Sunday.

In 2015, an Egyptian criminal court 11 people to death over the Port Said riot. No officials or security personnel were among the convicted. A court is set to review the appeals of the convicted later this month.

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