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More die as result of Syrian soccer rioting

wire services
Published March 14, 2004

DAMASCUS, Syria - Hundreds of Kurds rioted at a funeral Saturday for victims of a soccer stadium stampede, vandalizing shops and state offices and shouting anti-government slogans. At least one person was killed and 17 wounded, hospital officials said.

Witnesses said police fired shots into the air to disperse the crowd in Qamishli, a city along the border with predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey where a soccer match Friday erupted into a melee between fans of rival Kurd and Arab teams. The death toll from the stadium stampede rose to nine, hospital officials said.

Saturday's riot broke out as a crowd of Kurds buried three victims.

Spontaneous demonstrations are unusual in Syria, where the Baath party has maintained tight political control for more than 30 years. A riot by Kurds, who dominate Syria's underdeveloped northeast, would be especially sensitive for authorities.

Syria's state broadcast said the government had appointed a committee to investigate.

In Friday's riot, more than 100 people were injured at the stadium. Spectators inside were crushed in a stampede to escape an attack by rival fans.

SPANISH LEAGUE: Soccer returned to grieving Spain, with a banner unfurled during one game that read: "Pain fills our hearts, Spain will never give in." In Spain's first league game since 200 people were killed and 1,500 injured in terrorist bombings, Zaragoza and Real Madrid played to a 1-1 tie at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid. "It wasn't the best day to play soccer," Madrid sports director Jorge Valdano said. "In terms of effort the players can hardly be reproached. They showed their professionalism by playing this game." The game was preceded by a minute of silence that was punctuated by shouts directed at those believed responsible for Thursday's attacks on four rush-hour trains, the worst terrorist act in Spain's history.

UNITED STATES VS. HAITI: Dan Calif scored four minutes into second-half stoppage time to give the United States a tie at 1 with Haiti in an international exhibition game in Miami. Calif chested the ball past goalkeeper Fenelon Gabard before a partisan Haitian crowd at the Orange Bowl. Haiti opened the scoring in the 69th minute on Alexander Boucicot's goal. Haiti had a goal disallowed in the 34th minute because of a foul on Jean-Phillipe Peguero. In the first half, Johnny Descollines twice broke past the U.S. defense, but his shots were stopped by keeper Johnny Walker. The United States next plays Poland on March 31.

OLYMPICS: Experts observe terror drill

Britain's top anti-terrorism official is in Athens, Greece, to observe an important security exercise for the Games scheduled Aug. 13-29. The two-week "Shield of Hercules 2004" exercise, involving 400 U.S. troops, has taken on added urgency after the bombings in Madrid. Public Order Ministry officials said Scotland Yard's David Vennes was one of several senior overseas security officials visiting. The exercise also involves 1,500 Greek personnel as well as about 100 others from Britain, Germany, Israel and Canada. Greece also requested NATO's help with security to bolster preparations already costing a record $800-million and involving 50,000 police and troops.

TENNIS: Agassi easily advances

Andre Agassi and No. 1 Justine Henin-Hardenne won their first matches in the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, Calif., and defending women's champion Kim Clijsters withdrew because of a wrist injury. Agassi beat David Sanchez 6-2, 6-2, and Henin-Hardenne beat Samantha Reeves 6-2, 6-2. Clijsters, ranked No. 2, hurt her left wrist in a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Angelika Roesch on Friday night.

WINTER SPORTS: Miller, Maier win titles

Bode Miller was eliminated from contention for the overall World Cup title but ended up winning the giant slalom championship after the event was canceled because of bad weather in Sestriere, Italy. Heavy snowfall and thick fog forced the event to be called off midway through the second run, giving Miller the giant slalom title and Hermann Maier the overall championship. Miller was trying to become the first American male overall winner since Phil Mahre in 1983. Maier capped a stunning comeback from a motorcycle accident in August 2001 in which he nearly lost his right leg to win his fourth overall title. On the women's side, Anja Paerson of Sweden secured her first overall World Cup title with a sixth-place finish in the final slalom race of the season.

SPEED SKATING: American Shani Davis won the men's 1,500-meter gold medal at the world single-distance championships in Seoul, South Korea. Davis clocked 1:48.64, followed by Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands (1:49.29) and Erben Wennemars (1:49.40).

BOBSLED: The death of German driver Yvonne Cernota was called an accident after police found no problems with her sled. The 24-year-old was killed Friday when her sled overturned in a curve of a practice run. Stefan Grandi, who was riding with Cernota, has a broken arm.

ET CETERA

BOXING: Denmark's Johnny Bredahl defended his WBA bantamweight title in Copenhagen, Denmark, outpointing Japan's Nabuaki Naka.

CYCLING: Defending World Cup champion Paolo Bettini won the fourth stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race in Paglieta, Italy, and took the overall lead from Oscar Freire.

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