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WEB EXCLUSIVE: AUC President says use of Tahrir campus to fire on protesters 'illegal and unauthorized'
AUC President Lisa Anderson issued a statement condemning the use of the Tahrir campus premises by Egyptian State Security to reportedly fire on protesters in the square below.
On January 28, dozens of protesters reported seeing gun flashes from the top of buildings in the main Tahrir Campus. Since then, reports have circulated on Facebook citing eyewitness accounts of snipers using AUC premises to target protesters.
An Al Masry Al Youm article on March 4 said that a January 25 Revolution fact-finding committee believes that police snipers were indeed atop the Tahrir Campus bookstore.
In an earlier article, The Caravan reported that protesters trying to find a short cut to the Ministry of Interior were attacked by police using tear gas and Molotov cocktails on January 28. As a result, the protesters sought refuge in the Tahrir Main campus, which had been chain-locked and shielded using wooden boards.
“It turned into a battle between the protesters and the police,” said Ashraf Kamal, AUC’s chief of security.
Anderson confirmed that fighting had occurred throughout the building, including on the roof. "Windows were broken and a number of the offices of the AUC Press, which is housed in the Palace Building, were looted. The AUC security regained control of the building and the rest of the grounds of the University after about four hours," her statement, available on the university's news website, said.
Anderson said that AUC administration had been provided with grainy video which appears to show uniformed individuals in several places shooting firearms.
"The video is not clear, although it appears that at least some of the shots were fired toward the crowd of protesters below," Anderson's statement said.
Anderson says the police action against protesters was "completely unauthorized".
"The American University in Cairo has its own security staff and does not use armed police or state security on campus. The presence of any such personnel on our Tahrir Square campus, which was closed at the time, was illegal and counter to all University policies and procedures. Under no circumstances did AUC invite or agree to the use of force on its campus," the statement said.
Kamal previously told The Caravan that security staff was advised to withdraw to avoid harm. When they later returned, they discovered bullets and tear gas canisters, which had been expired since 2001.
Vice-President of Financial Affairs Fouad Sayess says that the Tahrir campus was looted: “The equipment that was stolen included laptops, CPUs, phone sets, copiers, fax machines, and printers.”
The losses were estimated to be EGP 150,000, a figure that included paintings that were ruined in AUC’s press offices.