BEIRUT

Middle East

Cairo gives police new powers against terror as students clash

Female students of Al-Azhar University, who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, shout slogans against the military and interior ministry after last night's clashes as they block Moustafa Al Nahas street in front of Al-Azhar University Campus at Cairo's Nasr City district, November 21, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO: Egypt’s interim rulers Thursday gave police the power to enter university campuses to quell protests without seeking prior permission, state media reported, after a student was killed in clashes.

The military-installed Cabinet said police could now enter campuses in case of “threats and to confront protests that could harm students,” state news agency MENA quoted a cabinet statement as saying.

Police previously had to obtain permission from the prosecutor general or university authorities before entering campuses or dormitories to deal with demonstrators or clashes.

Thursday’s move came after a student was killed in clashes at an Al-Azhar University dorm in Cairo’s Nasr City district overnight, a security official and a medic said.

The student had been hit by birdshot in the chest and neck.

The clashes were between supporters and opponents of the military-installed authorities, security officials said, adding that groups of students also confronted each other at Cairo University Thursday.

Meanwhile, a court in the capital sentenced 38 Al-Azhar university students to 18 months in prison for “participating in violence” at the campus in October, MENA reported.

Students who support the new authorities and those who oppose it have clashed regularly in Cairo and other universities since the army ousted Islamist President Mohammad Morsi on July 3.

The authorities are engaged in a crackdown on his Islamist supporters in which more than 1,000 people have been killed since the middle of August and thousands more have been arrested.

Among the initiatives announced by the Cabinet Thursday was boosting the powers of the police and military to help fight “terrorism,” MENA said.

Islamist militants have stepped up attacks in the restive Sinai since Morsi’s ouster and have targeted security forces outside the peninsula.

A car bombing in the Sinai Wednesday killed 11 soldiers and wounded 34, and another blast in Cairo wounded four policemen.

Earlier Thursday, a police officer was shot dead north of Cairo while attempting to arrest militants suspected of assassinating a senior security official Sunday.

Capt. Ahmad Samer Mahmoud was killed at dawn in an operation in the Nile Delta town of Qulubiya when a special forces team exchanged fire with militants, the Interior Ministry said.

The team was chasing “terrorist elements” wanted for Sunday’s murder of Lt. Col. Mohammad Mabrouk, it said.

Mabrouk was shot in Cairo.

 

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