World Bulletin / News Desk
Egyptian police entered the Cairo campus of Azhar University in a bid to contain violence that erupted earlier Wednesday between administrative security personnel and student protesters opposed to the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi.
The police intervention came following a request by University President Osama al-Abd to the Interior Ministry for police forces to contain ongoing campus violence.
The office of Egypt's prosecutor-general office approved the police deployment.
According to eyewitnesses, police are currently standing guard outside the university's administrative building, which was stormed by protesting students earlier Wednesday, following clashes with administrative security personnel.
Protesting students had earlier withdrawn from the vicinity of the administrative building.
The withdrawal came after police had arrived at the university, where they waited for judicial permission to enter the campus, the university administrators said in a Wednesday statement.
Al-Azhar University President Osama al-Abd appealed for police intervention to stop "rioting" by students, in reference to ongoing campus protests by students opposed to Morsi's July 3 ouster.
According to a university statement, anti-coup students had stormed the university's administrative building, trapping al-Abd – along with some other university staff – inside.
The move followed clashes outside the building between students and administrative security personnel.
Eyewitnesses said that "unidentified youths" had fired shotguns loaded with birdshot outside the building.
Eyewitnesses added that protesting students had smashed doors and windows and ransacked the building's administrative offices.
The pro-democracy "Students against the Coup" movement, meanwhile, accused the university's security staff of hiring thugs to "infiltrate protests" and of using birdshot to disperse student rallies.
"Following an initial investigation, it turned out that the shooters, who were not university students, had aimed to drag protesters into violence," the movement declared on its Facebook page.
It went on to denounce the recent clashes, reaffirming its commitment to peaceful protest.
The Azhar University Teaching Staff Club had earlier called on police to return to the campus in hopes of ending what it described as the "chaos" caused by ongoing student demonstrations.
Previously, police would monitor the movement of students into and out of the Azhar campus, which had served to keep a lid on student rallies.
But a court ruling issued before Egypt's 2011 uprising outlawed the presence of police on university campuses and called for replacing them with administrative security personnel.
The teaching staff club further called for criminalizing campus protests, with the stated aim of "protecting" universities from "rioters."
In a Wednesday statement, the club asserted that violators should be punished by performing public service.
"The return of police to the campus has become an urgent issue due to the present circumstances," club head Hussein Uweida told Anadolu Agency.
"Administrative security personnel are no longer able to contain the chaos inside the universities," he added.
For two weeks running, Al-Azhar University has been the site of continued student protests against the military's July 3 ouster of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.Last Mod: 30 Ekim 2013, 16:15