Terrorists killed at least 22 people inside the campus of Kabul University, one of the main universities of Afghanistan, today in a brutal, hours-long assault. The terror attack left students in pools of blood in their classrooms.
This attack on Kabul University, a sequel in a series of violence across Afghanistan, is the second one in less than two weeks where terrorists attacked an educational institution in the capital.
Survivors described horrific scenes following the incident that unfolded at about 11:00 AM (0530 GMT) when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the campus. That was followed by two gunmen beginning to shoot, officials said, sending hundreds of students fleeing and scrambling over the boundary walls.
Fraidoon Ahmadi, a 23-year-old student, told news agency AFP that he was in his classroom when gunfire broke out at the university. “We were very scared and we thought it could be the last day of our lives… boys and girls were shouting, praying and crying for help,” he said, adding that he and other students were besieged for more than two hours before the security forces rescued them.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the attack.
Distressing images posted online showed what were apparently the bodies of killed students lying by desks and chairs. “They opened fire … all my classmates were lying in blood, either dead or wounded,” a student told a local television channel. He said that he had escaped by climbing out of a window.
The Ministry of Public Health of Afghanistan said that the terrorists killed at least 22 people and wounded 22 more. Officials said most of the casualties were students.
Kabul University attack: Afghanistan suspects Pakistani hand
It was not immediately clear how the attackers got their weapons into the university, which has security checks. Officials said an investigation was underway.
It took Afghan security forces, supported by US troops, several hours to clear the campus and declare the attack over.
The spokesman for the Ministry of Higher Education, Hamid Obaidi, said that the attack had started when government officials were scheduled to arrive for the opening of an Iranian book fair in the campus.
The Taliban said they were not involved, but Vice President Amrullah Saleh blamed the ‘former’ terrorists and their supporters in Pakistan. He acknowledged an intelligence failure, of course. We “will correct our intelligence failures. But the Taliban and their like-minded Satanic allies in the next door won’t be ever able to wash their conscience of this stinking and non-justifiable attack on Kabul University (edited),” Saleh wrote on Twitter.
Afghan authorities routinely accuse Islamabad of backing the Taliban, charges Pakistan denies.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned the attack, saying it was a “despicable” assault on a seat of learning.
President Ashraf Ghani vowed revenge. “We will take revenge for this senseless attack and for any drop of innocent students’ blood spilled today,” Ghani said in a message released by the presidential palace. “This attack will not remain without response, we will retaliate.” Authorities declared Tuesday as a day of national mourning.
Terrorists, like those of the Islamic State (ISIS), have attacked several education centres over the years. Last week, they killed at least 24 people, mostly students, in a suicide attack on an educational centre in western Kabul. The ISIS claimed they were behind the attack.
In 2018, a suicide bomber killed dozens of people, many of them teenagers, in front of Kabul University. The ISIS claimed they were behind that attack too.
The NATO in Afghanistan condemned the latest carnage. “Afghan children & youth need to feel safe going to school. #NATO stands firmly behind all efforts to stop violence,” NATO envoy Stefano Pontecorvo said on Twitter.
Violence has surged in recent weeks despite ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the government that started in Qatar in September.
The US envoy who negotiated a separate deal with the Taliban in February, Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad on 2 November to meet the head of the Pakistan military to discuss a “way forward for lasting peace in Afghanistan”, officials said. Talks have so far made little tangible progress.