November 02, 2020
Afghan police arrive at the site of an attack at Kabul University in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Nov. 2, 2020. Gunfire erupted at the university in the Afghan capital early Monday and police have surrounded the sprawling campus, authorities said. RAHMAT GUL / AP PHOTO
By Rahim Faiez | The Associated Press
KABUL – Gunfire erupted at Kabul University in the Afghan capital early Monday and police have surrounded the sprawling campus reportedly hosting a joint Afghan-Iranian bookfair, authorities said.
At least six people have been wounded, Public Health Ministry spokesman Akmal Samsor said. Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the gunfire was ongoing.
Afghan media reported a book exhibition was being held at the university and attended by a number of dignitaries at the time of the shooting.
While Afghan officials declined to discuss the bookfair, Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency reported Sunday that Iranian Ambassador Bahador Aminian and cultural attaché Mojtaba Noroozi were scheduled to inaugurate the fair, which would host some 40 Iranian publishers.
University professor Zabiullah Haidari told local TV station Ariana that classes were underway when the shooting began. University officials and security personnel were escorting students off campus, Haidari said.
Security forces blocked off roads leading to the campus as frantic families tried to reach their children at the university.
No group immediately took responsibility for the ongoing attack though the Taliban issued a statement saying they were not involved.
Last year, a bomb outside of the Kabul University campus’ gates killed eight people. In 2016, gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul, killing 13.
Last month, the Islamic State group sent a suicide bomber into an education centre in the capital’s Shiite dominated neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, killing 24 students and injuring more than 100. The Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan has declared war on Afghanistan’s minority Shiite Muslims and have staged dozens of attacks since emerging in 2014.
Violence has been relentless in Afghanistan even as the Taliban and a government-appointed negotiation team discuss a peace agreement to end more than four decades of war in the country. The talks in Qatar have been painfully slow and despite repeated demands for a reduction in violence, the chaos has continued unabated.
A U.S. deal with the Taliban in February set the stage for peace talks currently underway in Doha. The deal also allows for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile Monday, a vehicle hit a roadside mine in the country’s southern Helmand province, killing at least seven civilians, most of them women and children, provincial governor spokesman Omer Zwak said.
Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.