Cairo – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group whose party won the biggest bloc in recent parliamentary elections, said the deaths of 74 people in Egypt’s worst ever soccer violence had been orchestrated by an “invisible” hand.

Angry politicians and sports officials decried a lack of security at the match in Port Said between local team al-Masry and Egypt’s most successful club, Al Ahli, and blamed the nation’s leaders for allowing – or even causing – the tragedy.

“This confirms that there is invisible planning that is behind this unjustified massacre. The authorities have been negligent,” the group said in a statement on its website.

“We fear that some officers are punishing the people for their revolution and for depriving them of their ability to act as tyrants and restricting their privileges,” it added

Egypt has been ruled by a military council since president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising a year ago. The newly-elected parliament is to convene for an emergency session on Thursday to discuss the violence.

The Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party secured almost half the seats the first election since Mubarak’s ouster, is under pressure to use its newly won parliamentary power to help restore order.

The Brotherhood statement said the cycle of violence was encouraged by the failure to track down and punish the perpetrators of repeated acts of violence in recent months.

Crime and violence have surged since Mubarak’s ouster and the police, demoralised and reviled for their use of force against peaceful protestors during the uprising, have yet to fully reassert themselves on the streets.

“We warn authorities against any attempts to destroy or burn Egypt or demolish its institutions. There must be firmness in applying the rule of law to everyone, without regard for internal or external pressure,” the Brotherhood statement said.

The “April 6″ youth group, which played a major role in the uprising that ousted Mubarak, said Wednesday’s soccer violence had been planned by the military council.

“Those who cannot secure and protect a soccer match cannot protect a nation at large,” the group added.

– Reuters