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Shots fired at funerals for Egyptian protesters

GUNSHOTS rang out in Port Said as people packed the streets for the funerals of 33 protesters killed in the Egyptian city at the weekend.

Some chanted for revenge or shouted slogans against President Mohamed Mursi, and tear gas was fired. "Our soul and blood, we sacrifice to Port Said," people chanted as the coffins were carried through the streets.

There were no immediate reports of further casualties in the city, where 33 people were killed on Saturday during a rampage after a court sentenced 21 people, mostly locals, to death for their involvement in 74 deaths at a soccer match last February between Cairo's al-Ahly club and the local al-Masri team.

In Cairo, police fired tear gas at dozens of stone-throwing protesters in a fourth day of clashes as crowds massed in Tahrir Square.

Protests in the capital and other cities erupted at the end of last week over claims of a power grab by Islamists two years after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak.

Since protesters took to the streets on Thursday, 42 people have been killed, most in Port Said and Suez, cities where the army has now been deployed.

A deep rift has been exposed in the country as liberals and other opponents accuse Mursi of failing to deliver on economic promises and not living up to pledges to represent all Egyptians while his backers say the opposition is seeking to topple Egypt's first freely elected leader.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is ruling Egypt for its own interests," said Mohamed Sami, a protester in Tahrir Square.

On a bridge close to the Square, youths hurled stones at riot police who fired tear gas to push them back into the square.

Many Egyptians are frustrated by the damage being done to the economy by the violence. "They are not revolutionaries," said taxi driver Kamal Hassan, 30, referring to those protesting in Tahrir. "They are thugs destroying the country."

On Saturday, the National Defence Council, headed by Mr Mursi, called for national dialogue to discuss political differences.

The offer has been cautiously welcomed by the opposition National Salvation Front, who have demanded guarantees that any agreements will be implemented.

The Front has threatened to boycott elections and to call for more protests if a list of demands is not met, including holding an early presidential vote.

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