Egypt, Algeria feud escalates

2009-11-17 16:30

Cairo - Naguib Sawiris, the chairman of Egypt's giant Orascom Telecom, on Tuesday said the "situation was escalating", after Algerian football fans attacked his company's compound there.

Thousands of fans burned down Orascom's compound in Algiers and stole or destroyed mobile phones and other equipment worth $5m, Sawiris told reporters in Cairo.

He said Orascom had evacuated 20 Egyptian staff members and their families from Algeria, following the incident.

Some 15 million Orascom customers in Algeria were now "threatened by a football match", said Sawiris, whom Forbes magazine in 2008 ranked as one of the world's 50 richest men, with an estimated worth of $12.7bn.

"It might be a good idea to postpone the match," Sawiris said on Tuesday, referring to Wednesday's World Cup qualifier between Egypt and Algeria in Sudan.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Monday summoned Algeria's ambassador to Cairo to inform him of Egypt's concern for the safety of its citizens in Algiers.

Decades-old rivalry

Crowds of Algerian fans thronged airline offices on Monday to try to get tickets to Wednesday's World Cup qualifier in Sudan.

A goal from Egypt in the last minute of extra time on Saturday night gave "The Pharaohs" the 2-0 victory they needed to survive to play a final qualifier against Algeria in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday.

After hundreds of thousands of Egyptians filled the streets of Cairo to celebrate, Cairo police said 20 Algerian fans had been injured in clashes with Egyptian fans across the city that night.

According to Algerian press reports, crowds of football fans attacked homes of Egyptian workers in southeastern Algeria on Saturday after local media showed photographs of Algerian football players allegedly injured by Egyptian fans in Cairo.

Egypt and Algeria have a bitter, decades-old rivalry. Fights broke out in 1989 when the two teams last squared off in a World Cup qualifier. An Algerian player was convicted of assault after injuring the Egyptian team's doctor with a bottle.

Read more on:    egypt  |  north africa  |  2010 world cup

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