Violence on first day of exams at Al-Azhar leaves 1 student dead

Ahram Online, Saturday 28 Dec 2013

Clashes with security forces at Al-Azhar University in Cairo after Muslim Brotherhood loyalist students refuse to allow faculty and colleagues on campus

Al-Azhar Uni clashes
Tear gas fired by riot police at protesters fills the air during clashes between riot police and students of Al-Azhar University, who support the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, outside the university's campus in Cairo's Nasr City district December 27, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

At least one person was killed in clashes between security forces and students at Al-Azhar University in Cairo on Saturday.

The clashes broke out as students who support former president Mohamed Morsi refused to allow other students on campus to attend the first day of exams.

Media advisor to the Ministry of Health, Ahmed Kamal, announced that the clashes had left one person dead and four injured, reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website. Student groups claimed that the slain person was an engineering student.

A score of pro-Muslim Brotherhood students reportedly raided and set fire to on-campus buildings belonging to the faculties of commerce and agriculture as police fired teargas to disperse the crowds.

A security source told Al-Ahram Arabic website that a total of 101 pro-Muslim Brotherhood students were arrested in the clashes, allegedly possessing firearms, Molotov cocktails, fireworks and a bag of nails.

The source added that security forces have succeeded in calming the situation, as exams are currently taking place smoothly across all faculties at Al-Azhar University.

Fire engines were sent to the scene and succeeded in putting out the fire.

Bakr Zaki, a faculty dean, told private-owned ONTV earlier in the day that students and others he claimed were not from the university locked the gates in the morning and stopped students and faculty members from entering campus.

Zaki accused them of vandalising the gates and possessing molotov cocktails, calling on officials to intervene "to save the university."

He added that several students were injured during their failed attempt to enter campus to attend final exams. Final exams were scheduled to take place at 11am.

Meanwhile, Al-Azhar's Student Union claimed via its Facebook page that several pro-Morsi students were injured after security forces allegedly shot at them using live ammunition during the clashes.

The Student Union's page was the first to report that a student was killed in the melee, saying his name is Khaled El-Hadad.

The page added that Tamim Mahmoud, an engineering student, is currently in critical condition after a bullet hit him in the head. The page shared photos of both students after being shot.

Egypt's general-prosecutor ordered an immediate investigation into Saturday's on-campus violence.

A team from the prosecution was sent to Al-Azhar University for a preliminary look at the scene of the clashes, reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

On Friday afternoon, Al-Azhar students had clashed with police who were deployed outside university residences to prevent them protesting on the streets outside.

The students were protesting in solidarity with a colleague killed in clashes on Thursday.

Mohamed Abdel-Latif, a first year agriculture student, died in clashes between pro-Morsi Al-Azhar students and local residents in Nasr City.

Al-Azhar, among other universities, has witnessed numerous clashes since the new academic year commenced in October amid frequent pro-Morsi protests.

At least five people were killed nationwide and 56 injured on Friday as clashes broke out between pro-Morsi demonstrators, local residents and police.

On Wednesday, the Muslim Brotherhood was formally declared a terrorist organisation by the government.

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