Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images
Updated at 1:55 p.m. ET
Gunmen disguised as policemen stormed Kabul University in the Afghan capital in an hours-long assault on Monday, killing at least 19 people and wounding 22 more, including students who jumped out of windows to flee the attackers. It is the second attack on a learning center in Kabul in recent days, and comes amid a spike in violence across the country.
The assault coincided with a book fair that attracted senior Afghan and Iranian officials to the sprawling campus, including Iranian Ambassador Bahador Aminian. It was not immediately clear whether any of the officials were killed or wounded.
But it seems students were targeted in the well-coordinated attack. A 22-year-old public administration student said she heard a deafening blast. Then, “I saw with my own eyes, there were a lot of attackers in police uniforms,” said Nilofer Farahmand.
She says the assailants rushed to the law internship center, where she was in class. Someone yelled at students to flee, she said. Later, she learned on a WhatsApp group that gunmen had taken two classes hostage, and opened fire on the students and teachers.
Some students jumped out of their second-floor class windows to flee the gunmen, she said. Other students scaled over high university walls to flee the attackers, and at least two were admitted into a hospital, said Marco Puntin, of the medical aid group Emergency, which runs several faculties across Afghanistan.
Another education centre is under attack in –#KabulUniversity; the militant groups proved that they are afraid of knowledge & bright future for Afghan youths. Their dark ideologies can’t resist the light & educated youths won’t be their foot soldiers pic.twitter.com/fEnrOvxPUS
— Moheb Mudessir (@MohebMudessir) November 2, 2020
Graphic photographs of the carnage were uploaded by Afghan reporters suggesting the extent of the horror within the university’s classrooms. One showed young men curled into a corner, blood pooled around them amid upturned chairs.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack, the second it has carried out in Kabul in less than 10 days, after a suicide bomber late last month blew himself up outside an education center, killing more than 20 people, including many students. ISIS also claimed responsibility for that attack – which was effectively a copy-cat of a 2018 attack by the extremist group on an education center that killed dozens of teenagers who were studying for university entrance exams.
The ISIS claim says two of its fighters attacked a group of graduating judges and investigators with their weapons and gunfire.