BAGHDAD – Heavy clashes erupted between Iraqi security forces and gunmen who stormed a campus on Saturday and used students as human shields, CNN quoted authorities in Iraq as saying.
The forces are attempting to re-take the university after the attackers, who are believed to be ISIS members, seized hundreds of students, police officials said. Professors and other staff also live within the campus, police said. Explosions rippled through the university while the siege was under way, but police could not provide details on what caused them.
ISIS is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a extremist group affiliated with al Qaeda. The campus is in Ramadi, about 110 kilometers west of Baghdad. The gunmen also killed three police guards who tried to stop them at the university gate, the officials said. The security forces have arrived at the scene and sealed off the area.
Ahmed al-Mehamdi, a student who was taken hostage, said he awoke to the crackle of gunfire, looked out the window and saw armed men dressed in black racing across the campus. Minutes later, the gunmen entered the dormitory and ordered everybody to stay in their rooms. “We are trapped in our rooms and everybody is in panic, especially the Shia students,” he told media from inside the dormitory.