KABUL: Armed assailants attacked a university Monday afternoon in Afghanistan’s capital, leaving at least four people injured, local media reported citing the country’s public health ministry, after explosion and gunshots were heard at the institute.
Masooma Jafari, deputy spokeswoman for the health ministry, told AFP four people had been taken to hospital but casualties could increase.
Students of the Kabul University escaped a compound, with many climbing the boundary walls, after at least three assailants stormed the varsity, Tolo News said, citing sources, with the attack coming as several senior government officials were expected to attend the opening of an Iranian book fair.
Authorities have reached the attack scene, cordoning off the area and blocking all roads towards the university.
Eyewitnesses said teachers and students have exited the compound.
‘A burst of gunfire’
“Gunshots are being heard from inside the university,” Hamid Obaidi, spokesperson for the ministry of higher education, told AFP, adding that the students were being evacuated from the building, he said.
The students who witnessed the attack spoke of chaos and confusion as gunfire erupted. “We were studying inside our classrooms when suddenly we heard a burst of gunfire inside the university,” said Fraidoon Ahmadi, 23.
“Some university students have fled… it is chaotic and students are terrified,” he added.
The ministry of interior confirmed gunshots were heard at the university and that police had been deployed.
‘Enemies of education’
“The enemies of Afghanistan, the enemies of education… have entered Kabul University,” Tariq Arian, a spokesperson for the ministry of interior, told reporters. “The security forces are in the area trying to control the situation.
“They are advancing carefully to prevent any harm to the students,” Arian added.
A member of Afghanistan’s Parliament, Mariam Sulaimankhel, shared a video from the scene, terming the incident “a disgusting terrorist attack” and asking why the attacks “want to discourage the younger generation from educating themselves?”
In recent years, several education centres have come under attack from extremist groups such as Daesh. Last week at least 24 people — mostly students — were killed in a suicide attack on an educational centre in western Kabul district that was claimed by the terrorist group.
On October 27, five Afghan security officers were killed and 33 people wounded following an hours-long attack on an Afghan police special forces base involving car bombs and a firefight.
Violence amid Afghan peace talks
Three suicide bombers detonated their explosives-loaded vehicles targeting the base in Khost, the city’s police chief Ghulam Daud Tarakhil told AFP, before other assailants tried to storm the compound.
A fierce firefight that lasted for almost nine hours between the militants and security forces ended with the killing of seven other militants, Tarakhil said.
Violence has raged across Afghanistan in recent weeks even as the Taliban and Afghan government remain engaged in peace talks to end the country’s long-running conflict.
In 2018, a suicide bomber had killed dozens of people, many of them teenagers, in front of Kabul university in an attack also claimed by Daesh.
More to follow…