CAIRO -- Thousands of protesting university students took to the streets of Cairo on Sunday, underscoring the growing role of college campuses as a hotbed of anti-government sentiment.

The protesters were denouncing the death of a student in a demonstration last week. The university’s administration has blamed police for the killing, one of two Cairo University student deaths in protests last month.

Sunday’s demonstration began on campus but spilled over into downtown Cairo, with some marchers breaking away and torching a police vehicle. A group of students made their way to Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, where they shouted slogans demanding the reinstatement of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The latest street drama unfolded as a government-appointed panel was holding a final vote on provisions of Egypt’s new constitution, which is to be put to a nationwide referendum early next year. Activists are unhappy with provisions they say will open the door to the trial of civilians by military tribunals -- a tactic already in use by the current army-backed regime.

Meanwhile, an international rights group called for the release of five former senior aides to Morsi, who were arrested when he was toppled in early July. The New York-based Human Rights Watch described the five, who are being held in an undisclosed location, as having been “disappeared” by the interim government.

Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, was ousted in a popularly backed army coup. The government last month put him on trial on charges of inciting murder, and the case was adjourned until January. Morsi said he did not recognize the court’s authority.

An ongoing state crackdown against Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has been widening to include secular Egyptians as well. The detention of well-known blogger and activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, who was arrested last week, was extended Sunday for another 15 days, official media reported.

Secular activists, some of whom supported the army’s removal of Morsi, have been galvanized by a week-old law forbidding protests not approved ahead of time by the authorities. Security forces last week forcibly broke up demonstrations in opposition to the law.

Laura.King@latimes.com

Twitter: @LauraKingLAT

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