Today at noon in the capital of Afghanistan unidentified gunmen entered the Kabul University after an explosion near the entrance. The assailants traded fire with Afghan security forces in the university’s campus, and attacked students inside the building.
Attackers entered through the northern gate of Kabul university as the Iran-Afghan joint book expo was underway.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Tariq Arian confirmed that all attackers have been eliminated, and the official death toll stands at 19, with 22 injured
Students flee university
“Gunshots still can be heard in the area, but security forces have blocked it off,” Tariq Arian had said when the when the attack was underway. “We don’t know whether we are dealing with a coordinated attack or something else,” he said.
The attack comes at a sensitive time with persistent violence even as peace negotiators meet in Qatar to try to broker a deal between the militants and the government while the United States withdraws its troops.
Witnesses said students had fled from the Kabul University campus.
“This time is one of the busiest times at the university, and almost all students have now left,” student Nahid, who asked that only her first name be used for security reasons, told Reuters by telephone after evacuating.
Some reports had claimed that a hostage situation is underway at the Law faculty school of the Kabul University. Images and tweets are circulating on Facebook and Twitter, showing injured students huddled together in rooms. Still, as of yet, the officials have not made a statement confirming students were taken as hostages.
Taliban condemn attack
Later in the evening, spokesman of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, released a statement condemning the attack.
“These sites are not military outposts, bases or other military targets that might justify attacks, but such attacks are to display savagery, spread terror and conduct propaganda.” He added that “our Mujahideen never carry out attacks on educational institutes, and public spaces.”
The statement claimed: “Certainly, such attacks are carried out by evil elements that were defeated in Nangarhar and Jowzjan provinces”
Nanagarhar and Jawjizan were said to be Islamic State (IS) strongholds, the Taliban fought and claimed to have regained control of these territories.
At Jawjizan, President Ghani was attacked recently during his election campaign last year
The attack comes after a similar one last month when a tuition centre in Kabul was targeted by the Islamic State group, leaving 24 people dead. The group also claimed responsibility for a 2018 attack in front of the Kabul university in which dozens were killed.
Similarly, an anti-IS religious seminary was attacked in the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This could spell an increased offensive of the IS in the region.