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Physics student arrested after axe attack

A former PhD student at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, has been arrested after allegedly attacking a former colleague with an axe.

Colin Gloster, an Irish national, is suspected of repeatedly striking a female professor in the department of physics with the weapon, a spokeswoman for the university told Nature. He was then reportedly overpowered by a student at the scene. The professor, named in reports as Maria Filomena Santos, was treated in hospital for wounds to an arm and a hand.

Gloster had been a doctoral student in the university’s physics department, with the support of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology. A grant was cancelled in January 2014, and Gloster is believed to have been upset over the decision.

According to the spokeswoman, the institution had “recently communicated to Colin Gloster that he was no longer a student of this university”.

Before the suspected attack on 4 August, the former student allegedly first entered the office of academic affairs and threatened staff with an axe. He is reported to have left before the police arrived, before later heading to the physics department.

The victim had no connection to Gloster’s cancelled grant, says the spokeswoman.


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