Saturday, November 28, 2020

Gunmen storm university in Afghan capital

The gunfire was said to have erupted when government officials were expected to arrive for the opening of a book fair.

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Gunmen stormed Kabul university Monday ahead of the opening of an Iranian book fair, firing shots and sending students fleeing, Afghan officials and witnesses said.

“The enemies of Afghanistan, the enemies of education… have entered Kabul University,” Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the ministry of interior, told reporters.

“The security forces are in the area trying to control the situation. They are advancing carefully to prevent any harm to the students.”

The Taliban said they were not involved, but in recent years several education centres have been attacked by extremist groups such as Islamic State (IS).

Hamid Obaidi, a spokesman for the ministry of higher education, told AFP that gunfire erupted when government officials were expected to arrive for the opening of the fair.

He said students were being evacuated.

Masooma Jafari, deputy spokesman for the health ministry, told AFP four people had been taken to hospital but casualties could increase.

Students spoke of chaos and confusion as gunfire erupted.

“We were studying inside our classrooms when suddenly we heard a burst of gunfire inside the university,” said student Fraidoon Ahmadi, 23.

“Some university students have fled… it is chaotic and students are terrified,” he added.

Last week at least 24 people, mostly students, were killed in a suicide attack on an educational centre in western Kabul district that was claimed by IS.

In 2018 a suicide bomber killed dozens of people, many of them teenagers, in front of Kabul University in an attack also claimed by IS.

Sixteen people were killed when militants stormed the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul in 2016.

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