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Egypt police negligence led to stadium deaths: inquiry

An Egyptian parliamentary inquiry blamed police negligence for a football riot that killed more than 70 fans earlier this month, official media said on Monday.

The preliminary report said police at the stadium in the Mediterranean city of Port Said downplayed the potential for riots, even as fans sensing impending violence left the stadium, the official Al-Ahram newspaper reported.

"The parliamentary fact finding committee... placed most of the political responsibility on the security apparatus," Al-Ahram reported.

Police and security at the stadium's entrances also failed to search fans for weapons and allowed people to enter without tickets, resulting in a crowd of almost 17,000 people, the report said.

The 74 stadium deaths -- the deadliest football violence in the country's history -- sparked days of violent protests outside the interior ministry's headquarters in Cairo, in which another 16 people were killed.

Many of the dead in the February 2 football riot were thought to have been Al-Ahly supporters, set upon by partisans of the local Al-Masry side after the Cairo team lost 3-1.

The Ultras -- supporters of Al-Ahly and another club in Cairo -- played a prominent role in the uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak a year ago, and commentators have fed speculation that pro-Mubarak forces were behind the massacre, or at least complicit.

Many believe the football riot was orchestrated either by the police or supporters of the ousted president, a reflection of distrust towards the ruling military, which took power after Mubarak's overthrow.

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