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14 students killed in clashes with police since September, says rights group

Police forces have killed 14 students in Egyptian universities this academic year, according to a study released on Thursday by the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

The victims died in the course of violent confrontations between protesting students and security forces attempting to disperse their demonstrations.

The on-campus bloodshed is the worst Egypt has seen “in seven decades, since the forces of the British occupation fired on labor and student protests in February 1946 in Tahrir Square, leaving 22 dead,” AFTE claimed.

In recent months Al-Azhar University has been the site of the most severe unrest, with seven students killed in clashes there this year. Five students have died at Cairo University, while one student was killed at Alexandria University and another at Ain Shams University.

Since the fall of former President Mohamed Morsi’s predominantly Muslim Brotherhood administration in July 2013, universities have become the stronghold of a forceful opposition movement against the military-backed interim government. Students associated with the now-banned Brotherhood group have had a particularly vocal presence in this movement.

Many independent student groups have accused their Brotherhood-affiliated cohorts of inciting the violence, and ultimately providing a justification for an unprecedented police crackdown. These critics point to examples of Brotherhood students storming university buildings, attacking staff and disrupting exams and classes.

The Brotherhood-affiliated groups deny those allegations, claiming the intensified police presence on campus is a symptom of the oppression wrought by what they call a military coup against democracy.

In several incidents of fatal violence, security forces accused students of killing the victims, AFTE said, asserting that the police randomly arrested innocent students to back up those claims.

 “There is a lot of evidence against the police,” who are consistently committing violations against the freedoms of students and faculty, AFTE said.

The report concluded that the deteriorating situation in Egypt’s universities “leaves no doubt that the souls of the students are subject to a serious threat with the continuation of the educational process, in light of the failure of the involved entities to provide practical solutions to offer stability and security that are essential to education.”