Clashes between protesting student and unarmed police on Thursday, September 7, resulted in authorities closing the University of Swaziland. The students were reportedly boycotting classes because of the low quality and high price of food on campus and unpaid scholarships. Students gathering at the campus in Luyengo reportedly threw rocks at police officers, injuring four, and flipped a police vehicle. Additional police officers were deployed after the fighting and were allegedly able to peacefully disperse the students. Students groups have pledged to hold overnight vigils outside the Ministry of Education until the university is reopened. Additional clashes between demonstrators and police officers cannot be ruled out.
In recent years, students in Swaziland have resorted to protests in attempts to force the government to institute education reforms. Clashes between protesting students and police do occur. In February, police fired warning shots at students protesting unpaid scholarships. Security forces drove an armored vehicle into a crowd of protesting students, seriously injuring one, in February 2016.
Individuals present in Swaziland are advised to avoid all demonstrations and to anticipate service disruptions. On a more general note, all those present in the country should be on guard against high crime rates including both petty and violent crime; be particularly vigilant after dusk and avoid traveling alone when possible. Criminals may be armed; do not resist if confronted and do not look your attacker(s) directly in the eye. Drive with windows closed, doors locked, and all personal possessions hidden from sight.
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