Monday Nov 02, 2020
KABUL: As many as 19 people were killed and 22 injured after a six-hour-long clash between Afghanistan security forces and armed assailants at Kabul University came to an end, the country's interior ministry said.
The ministry said that three people were involved in the attack, among them, two were killed during an exchange of fire, while one of them was a suicide bomber.
Earlier, Masooma Jafari, deputy spokeswoman for the health ministry, had warned that 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 reached the attack scene and had cordoned off the area and blocked all roads towards the university.
The Taliban said they were not involved but several education centres have been attacked over the years by extremist groups such as Daesh.
Eyewitnesses said teachers and students have exited the compound.
"Gunshots are being heard from inside the university," Hamid Obaidi, a 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, noting that he and several other students were besieged for more than two hours before being rescued.
Ahmadi talked about the fears, saying: "We thought it could be the last day of our lives... boys and girls were shouting, praying and crying for help."
"I have no words to express how we survived today's attack by gunmen on our university," he said, adding that there were about 800 students in the social sciences faculty itself where he studied.
The ministry of interior confirmed gunshots were heard at the university and that police had been deployed.
"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, adding that several people had been rescued from the university campus.
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.
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.