Gunmen take hundreds of students, staff hostage and open fire on Iraq university campus

By Amanda Holtzer,

Gunmen invaded Iraq’s Anbar University in the provincial capital Ramadi on Saturday, taking hundreds of students and staff briefly hostage. They exchanged fire with security surrounding the university.

The gunmen killed three police officers on guard at the university’s gate early Saturday morning. They then detained dozens of students inside a dorm.

A professor trapped inside the physics department said that several professors had been spending the night at the university because it was the hectic exam period. He told Reuters via telephone, “We heard intense gunfire at about 4 a.m. We thought it was the security forces coming to protect us but were surprised to see they were gunmen.”

Ahmed al-Mehamdi, a student who was taken hostage, told Al Arabiya News, “The gunmen took some students to other university buildings. For the rest of us, we are still trapped in our rooms and everybody is in panic, especially the Shiite students.”

He said he first saw the militants when they were exchanging gunfire with security forces as they made their way toward his dorm. The gunmen then entered the dormitory and ordered everyone to stay in their rooms, while taking some hostage.

The gunmen left the university several hours later after being repelled by the security forces. Students boarded buses provided by the local government, and fled from the school.

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