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Middle East

Protests near Cairo University leave one dead

Several also wounded at demonstrations sparked by Monday's death sentences for alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters.

Last updated: 26 Mar 2014 17:26
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TV footage showed images of the security forces seizing fire bombs from young protesters [AFP]

One person has been killed near Egypt's Cairo University after protesters supporting ousted President Mohamed Morsi clashed with security forces, a health ministry official said.

The official, cited by the Reuters news agency, said eight people were also wounded in Wednesday's attack but could not give further details.

The protesters, along with students at other universities in the country, were demonstrating against a court ruling earlier this week condemning more than 500 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death.

The unrest came amid local media reports that Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the defence minister and armed forces chief, was to resign on Wednesday in preparation for forthcoming elections in which he is expected to run for president.

At Cairo University, hundreds of students who attempted to take their protest outside the campus were met with volleys of tear gas from police, the AP news agency reported.

Khadiga el-Kholy, a student participating in the demonstrations, said the police gave no warnings before firing the tear gas, sending the students rushing back on campus.

Students responded by throwing stones and fireworks and hurling tear gas canisters back at the security forces in pitched street battles.

TV footage showed security in civilian clothes detaining protesters and taking them away in blindfolds.

There were also images of security forces seizing fire bombs from young protesters. Kholy said police had fired birdshot at the protesters.

Damage to property 

A pro-Morsi student group called for the protests, and students from various university departments as well as high school students responded, Kholy said.

"We wanted to escalate our protest because of those death sentences, which included university students," she said, adding that the protesters had sought to move into a nearby public square outside the campus.

"We want to break the barriers that the security forces have imposed on all the squares."

In the Nile Delta city of Zagazig, police said students damaged the facade of an administrative building in the local university and clashed with rival students, prompting security forces to enter the campus and arrest eight rioters.

On Monday, a court in the city of Minya sentenced more 529 alleged Brotherhood members to death.

Most of the defendants at Monday's hearing were detained and charged with carrying out attacks during clashes which erupted in the southern province of Minya after the forced dispersal of two Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo on August 14.

The verdicts came after a trial that held only two sessions and in which the defence was not allowed to present its case.

It is not known how many university students are among those sentenced.

The mass deaths sentences caused an international outcry. Thousands of Morsi supporters have already been arrested since the army removed Morsi from power and most are facing trials on a number of charges, including inciting violence, and rioting.

Morsi's supporters have continued to hold protests against his ousting. Authorities accuse the group, which they have outlawed, of fomenting violence and terrorism, a claim the group denies.

Presidential elections are now expected next month and Sisi is widely expected to run and win.

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