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At least 4 killed in Syrian raid on campus
Students pursued into dormitories
BEIRUT — Syrian forces stormed student dormitories during an anti-government protest at Aleppo University Thursday, firing tear gas and bullets in a siege that killed at least four students and forced the closure of the state-run school, activists said.
U.N. truce observers toured other restive parts of the country, and residents told them of being too terrified to walk on the streets after dark as the 14-month-old uprising rages on.
The United Nations estimates 9,000 people have been killed since the revolt began, and a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan nearly a month ago has done little to stem the bloodshed.
The university demonstration began late Wednesday when around 1,500 students protested President Bashar Assad's regime. Pro-regime students attacked the crowd with knives before security forces swept in, firing tear gas and then live ammunition, activists said.
"Some students ran to their rooms to take cover, but they were followed to their rooms, beaten up and arrested," said student activist Thaer al-Ahmed. "Others suffered cuts and broken bones as they tried to flee."
Raids and intermittent gunfire continued for about five hours through early Thursday, he said, adding that dozens of people were wounded, some critically, and 200 students were arrested.
The student quarters comprise 20 dormitories that house more than 5,000 students next to the university campus. Students there often shout anti-Assad slogans from their rooms at night.
The siege was an unusually violent incident in Aleppo, a major economic hub that has remained largely loyal to Mr. Assad and has been spared the kind of daily bloodshed that has plagued other Syrian cities over the course of the uprising.
There has been a string of bombings near government security buildings in Aleppo and the capital, Damascus, adding a mysterious element to the anti-government revolt. U.S. officials suggested al-Qaeda militants may be joining the conflict.
Amateur videos of the university siege showed a large number of security forces apparently storming the dorms Wednesday night.
Another showed a student protest earlier the same day with shouts of: "We don't want you, Bashar!"
The Local Coordination Committees activist group said five students were killed and some 200 arrested in the raids, while the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at four.
The Syrian government has prevented independent reporting in the country, making it impossible to independently verify casualty figures.
Syria's persistent bloodshed has tarnished efforts by a U.N. team of observers to salvage the U.N. truce, which started to unravel almost as soon as it was supposed to begin on April 12.
The head of the U.N. observers, Norwegian Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, visited the central cities of Homs and Hama, where anti-regime sentiment runs high.
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