Army vs. Police? Egypt military deny reports of Port Said clashes

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The Egyptian military have denied reports the army clashed with police forces in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on Sunday night, in a Facebook message posted by an official army spokesperson.

Colonel Ahmed Ali, issued a statement on his Facebook page on Sunday night denying the reports.

"It is completely untrue that armed forces units in Port Said exchanged fired with police forces during the clashes," Ali wrote adding that the presence of the army units at the governorate buildings was intended to secure the premises and to attempt to end the clashes between the protesters and the police.

Earlier on Sunday, several media outlets reported that police and army soldiers had been exchanging fire.

According to the official statement, an army colonel responsible for the army unit at the governorate building was shot in the leg and a Central Security Forces conscript was killed by a bullet by unknown assailants. The army colonel was transferred to Port Said military hospital, Ahram Online reported.

Five deaths on Sunday were the result of clashes between protesters and police in the, the ministry of health said on Sunday.

Two members of Egypt’s security forces and three civilians were killed as hundreds of people demonstrated against the detention of dozens of people in connection with a soccer riot last year when 70 died.

Police used tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered in front of a local government office. The Health Ministry said in a statement on Monday that 404 people had been injured.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that two of its personnel had died of bullet wounds to the neck and head.

Egypt has been in political turmoil for the last two years since a popular uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

A security official told AFP news agency earlier that protesters threw petrol bombs and stones at the police station in Port Said, where a general strike entered its third week. Police responded with tear gas.

The interior ministry said it decided to move prisoners from Port Said, starting with the 39 remaining defendants over the February 2012 football violence, because it wanted to avoid unrest.

The court verdict, expected next Saturday, is for the 39 defendants in a case which resulted in death sentences in January for 21 other defendants, sparking clashes that killed at least 40 people.

Residents of Port Said and other canal cities have long complained that Cairo marginalises them.

Last year’s football riot which killed 74 people, mostly supporters of a visiting Cairo team, exacerbated Port Said’s isolation, residents of the city say.