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Indiana University Student Among 3 Americans Arrested In Cairo

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Luke Gates, 21, of Bloomington, Ind., was one of three American students arrested in Egypt on Nov. 22, 2011, amid violent protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Photo Courtesy WISH-TV)

Luke Gates, 21, of Bloomington, Ind., was one of three American students arrested in Egypt on Nov. 22, 2011, amid violent protests in Tahrir Square in Cairo. (Photo Courtesy WISH-TV)

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(CBS) – Three American students have been arrested in Egypt, including a young man from Indiana.

The three students were among the tens of thousands of protesters who flooded Cairo’s central square, where violent clashes broke out between police and the crowds. Twenty-nine people have died in just the last four days.

The three students who were arrested include Indiana University student Luke Gates, 21; Drexel University student Gregory Porter, 19, of Glenside, Pa.; and Georgetown University student Derrik Sweeney, 19, from Jefferson City, Mo.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports the families of those three young men were anxiously awaiting word from them.

Families of the three students have received little information about their situation, or where things might proceed from here.

But the charges against them are serious and reflect the worsening tensions between the thousands of Egyptian protesters and Egypt’s military government.

Video from Egyptian TV showed the three American students, the Molotov cocktails supposedly seized from them after they allegedly lobbed others at Egyptian forces, and their student IDs.

All three are exchange students at American University in Cairo, including Gates, a native of Bloomington, Ind.

His high school guidance counselor, Patty Krise, said, “to hear that someone with that kind of a positive attitude and that bright of a bright future is in peril, actually, is very alarming to me.”

Sweeney’s parents said they can’t believe the charges against their son.

“I don’t think he would ever do anything to inflict harm on another person. He’s a firm believer in peace in every aspect,” Joy Sweeney said.

Tuesday marked the fourth day of violent clashes between police and protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Demonstrators want the military government to institute a democratic government immediately.

Isabel Lachenauer, a 2009 New Trier High School graduate, Cairo student and blogger, ventured into the square on Friday, when clashes broke out with Islamist protesters.

She spoke to CBS 2 Tuesday afternoon, via Skype.

“There was a huge cloud of gas over the square. Clashes have been continuing on Mohamed Mahmoud Street, which is right off of the square,” Lachenauer said. “It’s been very violent.”

Family members of the arrested students have been nervously awaiting further word.

“The last we heard was he was in the Abdeen courthouse in Egypt, being questioned, and what that means, we’re not really sure,” Joy Sweeney said.

But Lachenauer said the arrested students brought some of their troubles on themselves.

“I think it’s safe to say they did put themselves in this situation and it was not a prudent decision on their part,” she said.

Lachenauer said she knows the three students and they’ve been known to unwisely call attention to themselves at past protests.

For example, when Lachenauer was in the square, she wore a headscarf and veil. She said the three arrested students took no such precautions.

Still, she wishes them no harm. She said she has no plans to leave Cairo herself, at least, not yet.

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