Islamic State attack on Kabul University kills 22, wounds 22

KABUL —An hours-long siege on Kabul University claimed by the Islamic State left at least 22 dead and 22 wounded Monday after two gunmen stormed the campus, took several students hostage and battled security forces for hours before the scene was cleared and all hostages were freed.

Students killed by gunmen at Afghan university

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

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“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 the condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

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

Afghan police special forces were dispatched to the scene. Coalition forces from the U.S.-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan “provided support” to Afghan security forces during the operation, according to a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity in line with Pentagon regulations.



a man standing next to a building: Police stand guard outside Kabul University in Kabul on Monday.


© Wakil Kohsar/AFP/Getty Images
Police stand guard outside Kabul University in Kabul on Monday.

After an assault that lasted over five hours, the Interior Ministry declared the campus secured. The ministry said hundreds of students were rescued by Afghan security forces.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office condemned the attack and declared a national day of mourning Tuesday.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement released by the group’s media arm Monday night. The Taliban denied involvement in a statement released shortly after the attack began.

Monday’s siege bore hallmarks of past attacks on similar targets. In 2018, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a shrine near Kabul University where Afghanistan’s Shiite ethnic Hazara community had gathered to mark the Persian new year. And in 2016, the Taliban attacked the American University in Kabul, killing 11 and wounding 30 in an assault that trapped some students all night as a gun battle raged for nine hours.

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 also claimed responsibility for that attack.

Overall, large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital have dropped in recent months. The Islamic State group was weakened by Afghan military operations last year supported by U.S. air power that pushed it from strongholds in the country’s east. And large Taliban attacks in urban areas decreased significantly after the United States and the Taliban signed a deal in February on the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

But a handful of Islamic State-claimed attacks

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IS Attack On Kabul University Kills 22

At least 22 people were killed when attackers stormed one of Afghanistan’s main universities on Monday, detonating a suicide bomb and spraying classrooms with bullets in a brazen hours-long assault claimed by Islamic State group.

The attack on Kabul University, which came as violence surges across Afghanistan, marked the second time in less than two weeks that an educational institution was targeted in the capital by IS extremists.

Survivors described horrific scenes following the incident that unfolded around 11:00 am (0530 GMT) when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the campus.

Two gunmen then started shooting, officials said, sending hundreds of students fleeing and scrambling over perimeter walls.

Afghan special forces evacuate wounded people after gunmen stormed Kabul University ahead of the opening of an Iranian book fair, firing shots and sending students fleeing. Afghan special forces evacuate wounded people after gunmen stormed Kabul University ahead of the opening of an Iranian book fair, firing shots and sending students fleeing. Photo: Afghanistan Interior Ministry

Fraidoon Ahmadi, a 23-year-old student, told AFP he was in class 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,” Ahmadi said.

He said he and other students were besieged for more than two hours before being rescued.

Distressing images posted online showed what appeared to be the bodies of slain students lying by desks and chairs.

“They opened fire … all my classmates were lying in blood, either dead or wounded,” one student told a local television channel, adding that he escaped by climbing out a window.

The attack marked the second time in less than two weeks an educational institution was targeted in the capital The attack marked the second time in less than two weeks an educational institution was targeted in the capital Photo: AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR

IS said two of its fighters carried out the brazen daylight attack.

“Two Islamic State fighters managed to attack a gathering set up by the Afghan government at the Kabul University for the graduation of judges and investigators after completing a course at the university,” the group’s propaganda arm Amaq said.

“The two fighters targeted the graduates with automatic weapons… then clashed with security forces.”

The Ministry of Public Health said at least 22 people were killed and 22 more wounded. Officials said most of the casualties were students.

Kabul gun attack Kabul gun attack Photo: AFP / STAFF

It was not immediately clear how the attackers got their weapons into the university, which has security checks.

Officials said an investigation was under way.

It took Afghan security forces, supported by US troops, several hours to clear the campus and declare the attack over.

The Taliban said they were not involved, but Vice President Amrullah Saleh blamed the insurgent group and their supporters in Pakistan, even as he acknowledged an intelligence failure.

It took several hours to clear the campus and declare the attack over It took several hours to clear the campus and declare the attack over Photo: AFP / WAKIL KOHSAR

We “will correct our intelligence failures. But the Talibs, their like minded satanic allies in the next door won’t be ever able to wash their Conscience of this stinking & non justifiable attack on Kbul uni,” Saleh wrote

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Suicide bombing at Kabul education centre kills 24, students among the victims

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi

KABUL (Reuters) – A suicide bombing at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed 24 people including teenage students and wounded dozens more on Saturday, officials said.

A Ministry of Interior spokesman, Tariq Arian, said security guards had identified a bomber who detonated explosives in the street outside the Kawsar-e Danish centre.

Most of the victims were students aged between 15 and 26, according to the health ministry. Fifty-seven were injured in the attack, the interior ministry said.

A Taliban spokesman on Twitter denied responsibility for the attack, which came at a sensitive time as teams representing the insurgents and the government meet in Qatar to seek a peace deal.

Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement on Telegram, without providing evidence.

Family members gathered at a nearby hospital, searching for missing loved ones among bags containing the remains of those killed, laid out on the hospital floor, while outside orderlies wheeled injured patients on stretchers for treatment, a Reuters witness said.

The attack, which was condemned by NATO and the Afghan government, took place in an area of west Kabul that is home to many from the country’s Shia community, a religious minority in Afghanistan targeted in the past by groups such as Islamic State.

Dozens of students died in the same area of Kabul in an attack on another education centre in 2018.

A teacher at the Kawsar-e Danish centre, who asked not to be named due to security concerns, said he and other teaching staff were in shock at the targeting of the institution which had provided tutoring to give thousands of children a pathway to higher education.

“All the students were full of energy, belonging to poor families but hoping for a brighter future,” he said.

The latest attack came on the back of heavy fighting in multiple provinces in recent weeks, which has displaced thousands of civilians.

The U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad early on Sunday on Twitter called again for an immediate reduction in violence and an acceleration in the peace process, citing rising violence in the country in recent weeks including a finding by the human rights commission that an Afghan government airstrike had killed 12 children.

“How much more can we endure, as individuals and as society? How many times can we rise?” asked Shaharzad Akbar, chair of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission on Twitter shortly after Saturday’s attack, saying the targeting of civilians was a war crime.

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi; Writing by Gibran Peshimam and Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by James Drummond and David Holmes)

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Big suicide bombing in Afghanistan kills 18 at education center

By TAMEEM AKHGAR

KABUL, Afghanistan — The death toll from the suicide attack Saturday in Afghanistan’s capital has risen to at least 18 killed and 57 people wounded, including students, the interior ministry said.

The explosion struck outside an education center in a heavily Shiite neighborhood of western Kabul, Dasht-e-Barchi.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian says that the attacker was trying to enter the center when he was stopped by security guards.

According to Arian, the casualty toll may rise further as family members of victims of the suicide bombing are still searching the several different hospitals where the wounded have been taken.

No group claimed immediate responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban rejected any connection with the attack.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for a similar suicide attack at an education center in August 2018, in which 34 students were killed. Within Afghanistan, IS has launched large-scale attacks on minority Shiites, Sikhs and Hindus, whom it views as apostates.

Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan fled the country in September after a gunman loyal to the militant group killed 25 members of the shrinking community in an attack on their share a place of worship in Kabul.

The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict. U.S. officials said the deal would also help refocus security efforts on fighting the Islamic State, which is a rival of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country recently, even as representatives from the two warring sides begin their own peace talks in Doha to end the decades-long war in Afghanistan.

Earlier Saturday a roadside bomb killed nine people in eastern Afghanistan after it struck a minivan full of civilians, a local official said.

Ghazni province police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat said that a second roadside bomb killed two policemen, after it struck their vehicle that was making its way to the victims of the first explosion.

Sirat added that the bombings had wounded several others, and that the attacks were under investigation.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The provincial police spokesman claimed the Taliban had placed the bomb.

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Afghan bombing: Kabul education centre attack kills at least 18

Image caption

The education centre attacked on Saturday usually hosts hundreds of students

At least 18 people have been killed and 57 wounded in a suicide bomb attack outside an education centre in the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials say.

The explosion at the private facility, which offers courses for students in higher education, occurred late in the afternoon, the interior ministry said.

The building in the predominantly Shia Muslim Dasht-e-Barchi area usually hosts hundreds of students.

Many have been taken to hospital. There are fears the death toll may rise.

The Islamic State group said it was behind the attack in messages posted on its social media channels, but did not provide any evidence.

Earlier, the Taliban denied involvement in the attack.

“A suicide bomber wanted to enter the education centre,” interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said in a statement, AFP news agency reports.

The spokesman added that the attacker was identified by security guards “after which he detonated his explosives in an alley”.

Image caption

A man who reportedly lost his brother in the attack (R) is comforted at a hospital in the Afghan capital Kabul

One local resident, Ali Reza, told AFP that those killed and injured were students waiting to enter the facility. “I was standing about 100m from the centre when a big blast knocked me down,” he said.

Afghanistan has seen a rise in violence in recent weeks – with most of the attacks carried out by the Taliban. The violence threatens to imperil peace talks between government forces and the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The Shia community in Afghanistan has previously been targeted by Sunni Muslim extremists such as the Islamic State group, which views the Shia practice of Islam as heretical.

Map

Saturday’s attack is not the first to target an education centre in the country.

Forty-eight people – many of them teenagers – were killed in August 2018 when
a suicide bomber walked into a tuition facility
and detonated a device while teaching was under way. The Islamic State group said it was behind that attack.

And in May,
24 women, children and babies were killed
when unidentified gunmen entered a maternity ward at a hospital in Kabul and opened fire.

Earlier this week, 11 children and their prayer leader died an air strike on a religious school in the northern Afghan province of Takhar, according to local officials. The Afghan government disputed the account, saying the strike had killed Taliban fighters.

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Suicide bombing at Kabul education centre kills 18

By Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Orooj Hakimi

KABUL (Reuters) – A suicide bombing at an education centre in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul killed at least 18 people and wounded dozens more on Saturday, officials said.

A Ministry of Interior spokesman, Tariq Arian, cited security guards as identifying a bomber who detonated explosives in the street outside the Kawsar-e Danish educational centre.

Eighteen people were killed and 57 were injured in the attack, according to the interior ministry.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombing, the group said in a statement on Telegram, without providing evidence.

A Taliban spokesman on Twitter denied responsibility for the attack, which comes at a sensitive time as teams representing the insurgents and the government meet in Qatar to seek a peace deal.

The attack took place in an area of west Kabul that is home to many from the country’s Shia community, a religious minority in Afghanistan targeted by groups such as Islamic State in the past.

Dozens of students died in the same area of Kabul in an attack on another education centre in 2018, while in May gunmen attacked a maternity ward, killing 24, including mothers and babies.

The latest attack comes on the back of heavy fighting in multiple provinces in recent weeks, which has displaced thousands of civilians in southern Helmand province.

“How much more can we endure, as individuals and as society? How many times can we rise?” asked Shaharzad Akbar, the chairperson of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission on Twitter, saying the targeting of civilians was a war crime.

(Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi; Additional reporting by Orooj Hakimi; Writing by Gibran Peshimam and Charlotte Greenfield; Editing by Mark Heinrich, Andrew Cawthorne and James Drummond)

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Big suicide bombing in Kabul kills 18 at education center

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The death toll from the suicide attack Saturday in Afghanistan’s capital has risen to at least 18 killed and 57 people wounded, including students, the interior ministry said.

The explosion struck outside an education center in a heavily Shiite neighborhood of western Kabul, Dasht-e-Barchi.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian says that the attacker was trying to enter the center when he was stopped by security guards.

According to Arian, the casualty toll may rise further as family members of victims of the suicide bombing are still searching the several different hospitals where the wounded have been taken.


No group claimed immediate responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban rejected any connection with the attack.

An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for a similar suicide attack at an education center in August 2018, in which 34 students were killed. Within Afghanistan, IS has launched large-scale attacks on minority Shiites, Sikhs and Hindus, whom it views as apostates.

Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan fled the country in September after a gunman loyal to the militant group killed 25 members of the shrinking community in an attack on their share a place of worship in Kabul.

The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict. U.S. officials said the deal would also help refocus security efforts on fighting the Islamic State, which is a rival of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country recently, even as representatives from the two warring sides begin their own peace talks in Doha to end the decades-long war in Afghanistan.

Earlier Saturday a roadside bomb killed nine people in eastern Afghanistan after it struck a minivan full of civilians, a local official said.

Ghazni province police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat said that a second roadside bomb killed two policemen, after it struck their vehicle that was making its way to the victims of the first explosion.

Sirat added that the bombings had wounded several others, and that the attacks were under investigation.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The provincial police spokesman claimed the Taliban had placed the bomb.

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