BEIRUT — Syrian troops stormed the American University of Beirut and beat up dozens of students with rifle butts at the dormitories during the night, witnesses said today.
Fifty students, most of them Lebanese, were rushed to the neighboring American University Hospital for treatment of "various head, leg and chest injuries," said one witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The witness said that 14 students were discharged today and that the others, whose injuries are more serious, remain in the hospital.
Classes were suspended at the university today as about 400 students demonstrated on campus to protest what they called "Syrian highhandedness."
One demonstrator told reporters that Syrian troops imposed strict security measures on campus after two bloody bombings at Beirut airport and the American University Hospital this month. Thirteen people were killed and 110 wounded in the two explosions, one Nov. 11 at the airport and the second at the hospital Saturday.
The Syrians, who took up a law-enforcing task in Muslim West Beirut nine months ago, closed all but one of the university's entrances after the bombings, forcing students to line up at the so-called Main Gate for thorough security checks as they moved into and out of the sprawling campus.
A student, seeking to avoid the line, tried to jump over walls fencing the campus late Thursday night. Syrian soldiers caught him and beat him.
"When the student showed up at the dormitory with blood all over his face and head, his colleagues rushed out after midnight and shouted protests at the Syrians," the witness added. Then "the Syrians stormed in."