Kabul university attack widely condemned

By Izazullah

Mourners gather in Behsood District, Nangarhar Province, August 25 at the funeral prayer for Naqib Ahmad Khpalwak, a university teacher killed one day earlier in Kabul. [Izazullah]

Mourners gather in Behsood District, Nangarhar Province, August 25 at the funeral prayer for Naqib Ahmad Khpalwak, a university teacher killed one day earlier in Kabul. [Izazullah]

KABUL -- Afghan officials are denouncing an almost 10-hour-long siege of a college campus in Kabul as an attack on the future of Afghanistan.

Terrorists stormed the campus at about 6.30pm August 24, using a car bomb to breach a gate, and then battling security forces with gunfire and grenades.

The fighting continued until early August 25, when Afghan forces announced that they had killed all the insurgents.

At least 13 people were killed.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the massacre, calling it an assault on the country's educational institutions and public places. Nonetheless, he said, it will "strengthen our goal to eliminate the roots of terrorism".

Ghani visited some survivors in the hospital and offered his condolences to bereaved families, his office said.

The Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) fight and sacrifice daily to eliminate terrorism, Ghani said, adding that extremism and terrorism are the enemies of all humanity, not just of Afghanistan.

Attack on Afghanistan's future

The terrorists sought to attack the entire country's educational system and future, government CEO Abdullah Abdullah told reporters in Kabul.

"The Taliban don't want Afghanistan to be prosperous and for youngsters to have a high level of education," he said.

Kabul Police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi described the 13 Afghans who died.

They included "seven students of the university, two security guards of the university, one official from the Vocational High School for the Visually Impaired and three soldiers", he said.

"Another 35 students were injured, and some of them are in serious situation," he said.

Students' pleas for help

Afghan National Police rescued about 750 students who had become trapped inside the university complex, Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

"The insurgents used the Vocational High School for the Visually Impaired to enter [the campus]," he told Salaam Times, adding that the high school served as the route for their gate-busting car bomb.

Nine police officers were injured, he said.

"Most of the dead were killed by gunshots through the windows of their classrooms," he told reporters.

The attack triggered desperate pleas on social media from trapped students.

"They are shooting us," student Muhammad Anil Qasim posted to Twitter and Facebook. "Please, someone call police. They are throwing grenades into classrooms."

About 30 minutes after his post, Qasim was shot but not fatally, his brother, Muhammad Shafiq, told Salaam Times.

Taliban, ISIL want an uneducated people

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility, member of parliament Fawzia Koofi blamed the Taliban and the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

"They were students, innocent girls and boys, but the enemies of the people of Afghanistan attacked them," she told Salaam Times. "It was a shameful attack and the Taliban and ISIL have proved again that they don't believe in humanity or Islam."

"This university is one of Afghanistan's top, elite higher education institutions," said Abdulqadir Zadran, another member of parliament. "The Taliban want to kill our experienced teachers."

The insurgents attack education because they want an ignorant people, former education minister Farooq Wardag said.

"If we have educated people, they will teach other youth and our children," he he told Salaam Times. "The insurgents would have nobody to use against the people of Afghanistan for their own benefit."

"The Taliban and ISIL want an uneducated people whom they could use for their nefarious agendas," he said.

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