Gunmen storm Kabul University, killing 22, in second deadly attack on students in just over a week

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Orooj Hakimi and Hamid Shalizi

KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen stormed Kabul University, killing at least 22 people including students in their classrooms, on Monday and Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for what President Ashraf Ghani called a “despicable act of terror”.

In a video message, Ghani, who once lectured at the university, announced a national day of mourning to honour the victims and offered his “condolences and profound sympathies to the nation” and the families of the victims.

“My heart is still beating for this academic institution,” he said. “Today’s attack has left us grief-stricken.”

Gunmen barged into Kabul University in the morning, killing students in their classrooms and firing on others as they fled, officials and witnesses said, in what was the second attack on an educational institution in the capital in just over a week.

The three attackers killed at least 22 people, including students, and wounded 22 others before Afghan security forces shot the gunmen dead, the health ministry said.

The attack was claimed by Islamic State, the jihadist group’s Amaq News Agency said. Amaq said the gunmen targeted a gathering being held to mark the completion of a training course at the university.

Photos shared by a senior government official showed students lying dead in classrooms, some next to their books. One student appeared to have been shot as he was climbing out of a window.

“They were shooting at every student they saw…They even shot at the students who were running away,” witness Fathullah Moradi told Reuters.

“This is the second attack on educational institutions in Kabul … Afghan children & youth need to feel safe going to school,” NATO Senior Civilian Representative to Afghanistan Stefano Pontecorvo said in a statement.

A suicide bomber killed 24 people including teenage students at an education centre in Kabul on Oct. 24. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, without providing evidence.

Taliban insurgents issued a statement condemning the latest attack and denying any involvement.

Violence has plagued Afghanistan while government and Taliban negotiators have been meeting in Qatar to try to broker a peace deal and as the United States brings home its troops.

In a post on Twitter, the Presidential Palace announced a day of mourning on Tuesday, for which the Afghan flag will fly at half mast in the country and at its diplomatic missions around the world.

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Orooj Hakimi and Hamid Shalizi; Additional reporting by Hameed Farzad in Kabul and Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; writing by Charlotte Greenfield and Gibran Peshimam; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Gunmen Stage Attack on Kabul University, Killing at Least 22

(Bloomberg) — Three gunmen attacked Afghanistan’s largest university killing at least 22 people and wounding 22 others, the latest bout of violence to wrack the capital Kabul as the government and Taliban engage in negotiations to end the 19-year-conflict.



a group of people in a park: Police guard an entrance to Kabul University following the attack on Monday.


© Photographer: -/AFP
Police guard an entrance to Kabul University following the attack on Monday.

Afghan special forces arrived at Kabul University shortly after the attack began late morning, fighting the assailants and saving the lives of hundreds of students, said Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the interior ministry. The gunmen were shot dead after a standoff that lasted for more than six hours. Massuma Jafari, a spokeswoman at the health ministry, confirmed the casualties.

Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Twitter called the attack the result of an “intelligence failure” and claimed the Taliban had orchestrated the university assault. However in a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed denied his group’s involvement.

Footage aired on Tolo News, the country’s largest television channel, showed desperate students fleeing the campus, with some trying to scale walls to get away.

‘Blood Everywhere’

“The assailants were shooting at anyone facing them,” Mohammad Aziz, a political science student at Kabul University, said in an interview. “They stormed my classroom, and the moment they entered they started shooting at the students and I saw blood everywhere.”

Early U.S. Troop Pullout May Upset Fragile Intra-Afghan Talks

The latest attack comes a week after a suicide bomber targeted a private tutoring institute in Kabul, killing some 24 people and wounding 70 others.

Afghanistan has witnessed a sharp upswing in violence even as negotiators from the government and the Taliban have been attempting to negotiate a roadmap for peace. The U.S.-facilitated negotiations began in September and haven’t reduced violence across the country.

“Today’s attack has left us grief-stricken,” President Ashraf Ghani’s office said on Twitter. “This attack will not remain without response; we will retaliate.”

(Updates with casualties from first paragraph.)

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©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Gunmen Stage Attack on Kabul University, Killing at Least 19

(Bloomberg) — Three gunmen attacked Afghanistan’s largest university killing at least 19 people and wounding 22 others, the latest bout of violence to wrack the capital Kabul as the government and Taliban engage in negotiations to end the 19-year-conflict.



a group of people in a park: Police guard an entrance to Kabul University following the attack on Monday.


© Photographer: -/AFP
Police guard an entrance to Kabul University following the attack on Monday.

Afghan special forces arrived at Kabul University shortly after the attack began late morning, fighting the assailants and saving the lives of hundreds of students, Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry who confirmed the casualties, said by phone. The gunmen were shot dead after a standoff that lasted for more than six hours.

Vice-President Amrullah Saleh on Twitter called the attack the result of an “intelligence failure” and claimed the Taliban had orchestrated the university assault. However in a statement, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed denied his group’s involvement.

Desperate students

Footage aired on Tolo News, the country’s largest television channel, showed desperate students fleeing the campus, with some trying to scale walls to get away.

“The assailants were shooting at anyone facing them,” Mohammad Aziz, a political science student at Kabul University, said in an interview. “They stormed my classroom, and the moment they entered they started shooting at the students and I saw blood everywhere.”

Early U.S. Troop Pullout May Upset Fragile Intra-Afghan Talks

The latest attack comes a week after a suicide bomber targeted a private tutoring institute in Kabul, killing some 24 people and wounding 70 others.

Afghanistan has witnessed a sharp upswing in violence even as negotiators from the government and the Taliban have been attempting to negotiate a roadmap for peace. The U.S.-facilitated negotiations began in September and haven’t reduced violence across the country.

(Updates with casualties from first paragraph.)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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Gunmen storm Kabul University, killing 19 and wounding 22

KABUL —Gunmen launched a day-long attack on Kabul University Monday, killing at least 19, wounding 22, and taking several students hostage according to the Interior Ministry.



Ahmad Shah Massoud et al. posing for the camera: Afghan police arrive at the site of an attack at Kabul University in Kabul, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.


© Rahmat Gul/AP
Afghan police arrive at the site of an attack at Kabul University in Kabul, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.

The attack began with an explosion at the gates of the prestigious university campus in west Kabul just before 11 a.m. Monday morning. Thousands of students fled, but a number trapped inside began posting to social media describing seeing classmates gunned down.

“God give patience, my classmates martyred and wounded in front of my eyes, and I am taken hostage,” Qaseem Kohestani, a fourth year student at the university’s public policy school, posted to Facebook.

A law student told The Washington Post that dozens of students and some professors were taken hostage in the attack. The student spoke on condition of anonymity for security concerns.

[Taliban shows it can launch attacks anywhere across Afghanistan, even as peace talks continue]

Police special forces were sent to the scene and by afternoon the Interior Ministry said hundreds of students had been rescued by Afghan security forces. After an assault that lasted over five hours, the Interior Ministry declared the campus secured.

Shortly after the attack began the Taliban issued a statement denying responsibility.

This is the second significant attack targeting civilians in Kabul in recent weeks. Last month a suicide attack on an education center in west Kabul killed 24 people, mostly students, and wounded 70 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility.

West Kabul, home to many of Kabul’s minority community of ethnic Hazara Shiites, has born the brunt of Islamic State attacks in recent years. The attacks have targeted mosques, shrines, schools, gyms and public gatherings.

Many senior Afghan officials accuse the Taliban of playing a role in attacks claimed by the Islamic State in Afghanistan. The Taliban denies the accusations, but has increased violence in other parts of the country despite ongoing peace talks with representatives of the Afghan republic in Doha.

The peace talks were launched in September and while the two sides continue to meet, they have so far failed to make significant progress.

The latest report from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said overall civilian casualties are down across the country. The report found fewer civilian casualties during the first nine months of 2020 than in any similar period since 2012. Between January and September, 2,117 civilians were killed and 3,822 wounded, a 30 percent drop compared to 2019.

Within the Taliban, clashing views of Afghanistan’s future A Kabul student survived an attack on his classroom. Two years later, his brother died in a suicide bombing at the same place. Taliban offensive in Helmand threatens U.S., Afghan peace efforts

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Gunmen Storm Kabul University, Killing at Least 19

In 2018, a suicide bombing that killed dozens, claimed by the Islamic State, took place near Kabul University. In 2016, the Taliban attacked the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, killing 13.

The Islamic State has staged numerous high-profile attacks in Kabul in recent years, often striking government postings and Shiite Muslims at schools, places of worship and other easily infiltrated — or “soft” — targets.

Over the past three years, concerted U.S. and Afghan military campaigns beat back the Islamic State’s offshoot in Afghanistan, hemming in what remained of the extremists in the country’s mountainous east. But the group still maintains capable terrorist cells in cities like Kabul, protected by secure messaging apps and careful communication with outside leadership.

Islamic State tactics have often mimicked those introduced by the Taliban, especially the Haqqani network, a group known for its ruthlessness, criminal networks and close ties to Al Qaeda.

But after the February agreement between the Taliban and the United States over the drawdown of American troops, the Taliban has reduced attacks on cities, replacing them with targeted killings that go unclaimed and offensives in the country’s rural areas.

The attack on the university followed the deadliest month in Afghanistan for civilians since September 2019, according to data compiled by The New York Times. At least 212 people were killed in October, and, according to recently released United Nations data, about 2,100 Afghan civilians died and 3,800 were wounded in the first nine months of the year.

After the February agreement, the Taliban and the Afghan government came to the negotiating table in September. But any hope of a quick resolution to the conflict has since faded, with negotiators from both sides still deadlocked in preliminary discussions on the rules and regulations that will govern future negotiations.

Najim Rahim contributed reporting.

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IQVIA Killing It In The Drug Trials Business

Imagine a business that cornered the market for managing drug company clinical trials, in the middle of a pandemic. That’s part of the story of IQVIA
IQV
IMS Health

The Durham, NC-based company reported third quarter financial results October 20, and raised guidance for the upcoming quarter, too. Business is booming and there is more to come.

Despite the gains, investors should continue to buy shares.

IQVIA operates in a unique business segment. The company helps pharmaceutical firms find participants for clinical trials, and manage the process, including dealing with red tape.

The cost of drug development is mind-bending. Networks of physicians and investigators must be assembled. Patients need to be recruited. Regulatory submissions must be filed. Safety protocols have to be designed, implemented and monitored. And the data needs to be collected and analyzed.

Collecting all of the bloodwork alone is a Herculean task.

Research from Battelle, a global science and technology research organization, found the cost per participant ranged from $36,500 – $42,000. Some trials can have tens of thousands of participants. In 2013, 1,148,340 people were participating.

It’s a specialized business that pharmaceutical companies are all too willing to outsource.

In 2016, Quintiles, a health sciences research and development company, merged with IMS. The partnership created the biggest company in the sector with fantastic synergies.

IMS had been a health information company. It catalogues 780,000 streams of health care data taken from 45 billion transactions per year. These are anonymized medical records, diagnosis, prescriptions, and even blood test information. All of the data is collected and analyzed using the latest software tools.

The merger with Quintiles took these assets to the next level.

For example, the combined company is using advances in information technology to mix-in real-time social media monitoring, customer relationship management, and data analytics with its legacy R&D efforts. It’s an unbeatable data set for large drug companies looking to populate trials.

From the onset, its Next-Generation clinical offering began winning business, even from companies with no previous relationships.

Ari Bousbib, chief executive officer, told analysts in the first call after the merger that $600 million in new business had been won based on new products, pushing the backlog to an estimated $9.99 billion.

The timing was fortuitous. The Food and Drug Administration in 2017 began policy changes in support of more innovation, streamlining regulations. This led to more trials.

At the same time researchers started making real breakthroughs in immunotherapy and precision medicine, the idea that the right drug treatment could program a patient’s own immune system to fight disease.

IQV managers, in 2017, integrated its Master Data Management platform with Salesforce
CRM
. Then they packaged everything into IQVIA Core, a comprehensive platform, making it easier than ever for drug company clients to access data quickly.

They built the right platform to leverage the digital transformation of health sciences.

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Galveston ISD to Install More Than 250 COVID Killing Air Filtration Units Across the District

GALVESTON, Texas, Oct. 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Galveston ISD has partnered with Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) with plans to install 281 biodefense indoor air protection units throughout its 12 campuses and other facilities. A press conference was held at Burnet Elementary School on October 22, 2020 to showcase the state-of-the-art COVID killing devices and hear from its inventor, IVP CEO and famed engineer Monzer Hourani.

“We are tired of having to live like this,” proclaims Hourani. “If you think of all I’ve done and all of my other inventions, then multiply them by one million to compare it to this one. This invention will kill COVID-19, it’s a gift from God.”

The Houston-based company’s air filtration system is proven to immediately eliminate 99.999% of airborne SARS-CoV-2 virus through the use of heat, UVC light, and HEPA filter technologies.

Galveston ISD is currently installing 79 small classroom units called the R1 and 37 larger S1 units for spacious areas. The district paid $100,000 for the first shipment of 116 devices and plans to order another 165 units for an estimated $249,000, totaling 281 units throughout the district.

“This is not just for COVID, this is for the overall health of all of our students,” remarks Galveston ISD Superintendent Dr. Kelli Moulton. “We know that when they are in school, they learn more and they learn better. We are proud to be the ISD partner for this program.”

Galveston ISD is a public school district in Texas that serves more than 7,000 students. Its 12 Schools of Choice campuses consist of traditional and theme-based schools, charter schools, STEM programs, magnet schools, and a mega-magnet high school established in 1884. The district’s mission is to Educate, Engage and Empower EACH student for a life of Excellence. To learn more, visit www.gisd.org.

Island of Excellence. World of Opportunity.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GalvestonPublicSchools
Instagram: www.instagram.com/galvestonisd
Twitter: www.twitter.com/galvestonisd
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/galvestonisd

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CONTACT: Billy Rudolph Galveston ISD 817-723-0914 [email protected]

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Man apologizes as he’s sentenced to life in prison for killing college student

A Utah man was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the killing of University of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck.



a girl posing for a picture: This undated photo taken from the Facebook page #FindMackenzieLueck shows a Mackenzie Lueck, 23, a senior at the University of Utah.


© #FindMackenzieLueck/Facebook via AP
This undated photo taken from the Facebook page #FindMackenzieLueck shows a Mackenzie Lueck, 23, a senior at the University of Utah.

Ayoola Ajayi addressed the court to offer an apology for Lueck’s June 2019 slaying. The victim and her killer met on a “sugar daddy” dating website, according to Ajayi’s lawyer.

“I’m sorry for what I did,” Ajayi said, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. “I know this won’t bring her back.”

MORE: Utah man to spend life in prison in slaying of college student Mackenzie Lueck

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill told ABC News after court, “I’m glad that he said that he was sorry. Do I believe that he was sorry? No, I don’t.”



a person posing for the camera: Ayoola Ajayi is pictured in a police mugshot.


© Salt Lake County via AP, FILE
Ayoola Ajayi is pictured in a police mugshot.

Gill called Ajayi a “manipulator,” who was “cold and calculated enough to not see the humanity and dignity of the person in front of him.” 

Lueck’s parents also spoke in court, reflecting on how Lueck, a 23-year-old kinesiology major, was about to graduate from college with her whole life ahead of her. But now they’ll never see her get married or have children, the Tribune reported.



a girl posing for a picture: This undated photo taken from the Facebook page #FindMackenzieLueck shows a Mackenzie Lueck, 23, a senior at the University of Utah.


© #FindMackenzieLueck/Facebook via AP
This undated photo taken from the Facebook page #FindMackenzieLueck shows a Mackenzie Lueck, 23, a senior at the University of Utah.

Gill called the Lueck family “incredibly good people who had a terrible, heinous reality thrust upon their lives.”

“All we can hope is to give them an opportunity to move forward … with the knowledge that this person will never ever see freedom again,” Gill said.

MORE: Slain Utah student Mackenzie Lueck’s charred body was bound in shallow grave; suspect formally charged: DA

In June 2019, after connecting on the dating website, Lueck and Ajayi met up at a park. They then went to Ajayi’s Salt Lake City home where he killed her and buried her in his yard, Ajayi’s lawyer Neal Hamilton has said, according to The Associated Press.



a person holding a sign: A jogger runs pass a poster of Mackenzie Lueck at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, June 24, 2019.


© Rick Bowmer/AP, FILE
A jogger runs pass a poster of Mackenzie Lueck at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, June 24, 2019.

After police came to question Ajayi, he moved her body to Logan Canyon, over 80 miles north of Salt Lake City.

In July 2019, Lueck’s charred remains were found in a shallow grave in Logan Canyon. Her arms were bound behind her back by a zip tie and rope, prosecutors said.

MORE: ‘He took my best friend away from me’: Slain student Mackenzie Lueck remembered at emotional vigil

There was no motive, according to the district attorney.

“Some people have a profit motive, anger or whatever. There isn’t one here other than murder for murder’s sake,” Gill said.

Earlier this month, Ajayi pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and desecration of a

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