Four die in latest round of university clashes in Jordan

Published April 30th, 2013 - 01:20 GMT
Four students have died following violent clashes involving firearms at a university in Jordan
Four students have died following violent clashes involving firearms at a university in Jordan

Four people at Al Hussein Bin Talal University died of gunshot wounds while 25 were injured after an armed fight between students broke out on Monday at the Maan-based university, also resulting in the suspension of classes until Sunday.

According to a Public Security Department (PSD) statement, the fight erupted between students and their relatives on the university campus, which lies 220 km south of Amman.

At least 22 persons were later arrested for the possession of weapons as police launched a probe in the incident, which is part of a nation-wide phenomenon that has continued unabated in the recent years.

Following the incident, Hassan Al Khattab, dean of students' affairs at the university, told The Jordan Times that the number of fatalities had risen to four, and that the victims included two students, a university employee and a “guest”.

The PSD statement added that police, alongside the university’s security personnel, evacuated the campus to protect students.

A statement by Interior Minister Hussein Majali, quoted by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, said the Gendarmerie Forces entered the campus at 3pm after the university’s president requested intervention. 

Eyewitnesses, who were on the campus when the violence erupted, and later spoke to The Jordan Times, described the clashes as a "real battle", and that Gendarmerie entered the area in an attempt to control the fighting and assist with the evacuation of students and employees.

They added that the fight was between students affiliated with two tribes. They were allegedly supplied with weapons from their relatives outside.

The security forces used tear gas, rounded up suspects and helped medical authorities evacuate the dead and the wounded.

The ministry said 13 injured persons were evacuated to Queen Rania Hospital in Wadi Moussa, who were in a “moderate condition,” and 11 to Maan Hospital.

According to sources, the fight moved beyond the university boundaries, with members of the implicated tribes threatening each other and escalating the violence further.

One of the suspects, a man with a criminal record believed to be the killer or one of the killers, was at large, the Interior Minister said, adding that this suspect had previously shot at a police kiosk.

The sources and police did not have details of how the fight started, but eyewitnesses said it began with an argument between a Maani student and Bedouin students who had erected a traditional tent as part of festivities of the 14th anniversary of the state-run university, where around 8,000 students receive education. The fight began as a result of a conflict of interests between two students participating in an exhibition marking the university's 14 anniversary, the sources added.

“The clash escalated when relatives of the students became involved and introduced weapons into the fight," an eyewitness who preferred to remain unnamed told The Jordan Times.

He added that some university property was also damaged during the violence.

The gendarmeries left the campus and imposed a siege around the university forming a shield to protect the facility from intruders, according to the ministry.

Minister of Higher Education Amin Mahmoud said that the Higher Education Council will direct the university’s administration so that it does not show any leniency towards students who are found to be involved in the fight.

He told The Jordan Times that violent outbursts occurring on university campuses across Jordan are becoming "uncontrollable" and that local communities must act in liaison with the universities themselves to help prevent such incidents.

Meanwhile, Al Khattab noted that the university's administration will review CCTV footage from the university and hand over any student seen to be involved in the fight to the police.

He added that classes are halted until Sunday and "may be suspended for a longer period" if it is deemed necessary by the administration.

This is the second violent outburst this month in universities across the Kingdom that resulted in fatality.

On April 2, a student died at at Mutah University in Karak, 130km south Amman, in a fight that also involved the use of weapons and the suspension of classes.

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