Afghan security forces traded fire with gunmen who stormed the campus of Kabul University on Monday, leaving at least 19 people dead.
“Gunshots still can be heard in the area but security forces have blocked it off,” Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Interior, told Reuters (via NBC). “We don’t know whether we are dealing with a coordinated attack or something else.”
Accounts of the death toll are fluid, though Arian said at least 19 were killed in the attack.
The latest surge in violence comes as members of the Taliban and Afghan officials work to broker a cease-fire agreement in Qatar to try to bring one of the longest-running conflicts in world history to an end. Neither the Taliban nor any other high-profile groups like al-Qaida said their fighters were involved in the university attack.
Monday’s attack follows the deadliest month in the country in terms of civilian casualties since September 2019. A tally from The New York Times put the October death toll at 212.
During the first nine months of the year, more than 2,000 people died as a result of attacks and another 3,800 were wounded. In August, Saba Sahar, one of the country’s best-known actresses and Afghanistan’s first woman filmmaker, was shot in the stomach as she left for work, but recovered.
Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO’s senior civilian envoy to Afghanistan, said the recent attack was a blow to Afghan reconstruction.
“Afghan children and youth need to feel safe going to school,” he told Reuters.
The university had recently lifted restrictions in place because of the pandemic.
President Donald Trump has campaigned on bringing troops home from the conflict sooner than later.