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All public universities in Madagascar closed for solidarity with strike victims

ANTANANARIVO, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- All public universities in Madagascar were ordered to be closed on Thursday for solidarity with victims of a student strike, according to a statement from the union of researchers teachers (SECES).

The closedown is to show solidarity with victims injured in a student strike and to mourn one shot dead by armed forces reportedly in Mahajanga University on Friday, the statement said, adding that it is also for respect of academic freedom and freedom of expression in the country.

Eleven were injured and admitted directly to Mahajanga hospital after their strike on Friday. One of them stopped breath at the hospital on Saturday, while 12 others were arrested before released on Sunday, according to local media.

Since October 2013, the students have asked for improved housing and the return of their comrades expelled from the university.

The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research closed the University of Mahajanga for one month and sacked its president Zafera Rabesa Antoine to restore order in the institution.

The anti-riots police said they had to open fire to protect themselves because 100 students armed with items of steel and ready to loot surrounded them in Mahajanga last week.

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