EGYPT: Cairo recalls its ambassador to Algeria after soccer violence
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki confirmed today that Egypt recalled its ambassador to Algeria after Egyptian fans were attacked by their Algerian counterparts following the two countries' playoff match in the 2010 World Cup qualifications held in Khartoum, Sudan, on Wednesday.
The incident comes days after Algeria's ambassador to Cairo, Abdel Qader Hadjar, was summoned by the Egyptian government to explain violence against Egyptians living in Algeria in the days leading up to the crucial match, which Algeria won 1-0. Hadjar was summoned once again today, hours before a decision was issued to recall Egypt's ambassador in Algiers for "consultations."
The Foreign Ministry announced that it informed Hadjar of "Egypt's extreme displeasure with the assaults on Egyptian citizens who went to Khartoum to support the Egyptian team."
"Egypt also expressed its outrage and its denunciation after continuing reports and many appeals from Egyptian citizens residing in Algeria over the assaults and intimidation they face," the statement to Hadjar concluded.
By defeating Egypt, Algeria won a berth in the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa. But the game was marred by tensions as Egyptian supporters and celebrities who were accompanying their national team called for help by phoning satellite television channels, describing how tough it was to leave the stadium amid Algerian fans' attacks.
Some Egyptian fans said they were forced to find shelter in homes and villas offered by Sudanese residents until the situation calmed down. Egyptian Health Minister Hatem El Gabaly said today that 21 Egyptians were injured as a result of the post-match assaults.
The soccer violence started on Saturday when Egyptians hurled stones at a bus carrying Algerian players from the Cairo airport to the city's stadium before an earlier qualifying match between the two teams. Three Algerian players were injured.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Ambassador Abdel Qader Hadjar talking to Algerian fans. Credit: AFP