22 people died as thousands tried to force their way into a Cairo football stadium
At least 22 people were killed Sunday night in rioting outside a stadium on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital, medical officials and prosecutors said, the deadliest such violence in three years.
The unrest took place outside an army stadium in the run-up to a Premier League match between Zamalek and ENPPI.
Clashes broke out between security forces and Zamalek fans after police denied spectators having no tickets access to the stadium. A deadly stampede followed, officials said.
The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of security in Egypt, said thousands of Zamalek's hardcore fans, known as White Knights, tried to force their way into the stadium without tickets and police dispersed them. The angry fans torched a police fan, the ministry said.
Surviving fans accused the police of firing birdshot at the crowd. The ministry denied the accusation, saying that the deaths were due to the stampede.
Footage on local news sites showed bodies of dead fans wearing Zamalek's shirt.
The televised match was held 45 minutes behind schedule.
Police used an armoured vehicle to carry Zamalek players into the stadium after the White Knights tried to stop the footballers from participating in the game, security sources said.
Prime Minister Ebrahim Mahleb held a crisis meeting with ministers of the interior, health and sports following the rioting, state television said.
The Egyptian Football Association decided to hold the remaining fixtures of the Premier League behind closed doors, just days after allowing fans to attend the games.
The incident is Egypt's worst soccer-related violence since February 2012 when 74 people died in a stampede in the coastal city of Port Saeed following a match between the hometown team Al Masry and the Cairo-based club Al Ahly.
The 2012 unrest prompted Egyptian authorities to temporarily halt local football competitions. When tournaments were later resumed, they were held behind closed doors.
In recent months, Egypt has been at pains to project an image of stability after four years of turmoil following the uprising that toppled long-standing president Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt is hosting a major investment conference next month.