Three armed men stormed the university campus in Kabul on Monday and fought a gun battle with elite Afghan soldiers for hours. At least 22 people died. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the heinous act.

What Happened in the Attack?

A terrorist attack at Kabul University, Afghanistan’s largest, with a student body of about 22,000, killed at least 22 people and injured dozens more. The Islamic State in Afghanistan claimed credit for the attack, saying it had targeted “the graduation of judges and investigators working for the apostate Afghan government.”

It was just the latest sign that the fragile peace deal inked this year between the United States and the Taliban is far from the final word on a conflict that has gutted Afghanistan for decades.

According to official information, at least 22 people were killed in the attack, including the attackers, 22 more were injured. According to the interior ministry, the armed men stormed the area and fought a six-hour gun battle with Afghan elite units before being killed by the security forces.

NATO-Supported Mission

According to a US military spokesman, the Afghan forces were supported by the NATO-led Resolute Support mission.

The Afghan government announced a national day of mourning on Tuesday to commemorate the deadly attack victims. According to a message from the presidential palace on Monday evening, the national flag will be set to half-mast in the country and at all diplomatic missions around the world, according to a message from the presidential palace.

According to eyewitness accounts, the attack occurred during a book exhibition organized by Afghanistan and Iran.

Students Taken Hostage

The attackers had taken an unspecified number of students hostage. During the fighting, helicopters were seen, and explosions and gunfire were heard over the campus.

According to eyewitness reports, hundreds of students, professors, and administrative staff fled the premises after the fighting broke out. Hundreds of more people were later brought to safety by security forces.

Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh accused the Taliban of the university’s bloody attack, but the Taliban denied their involvement.

The European Union condemned the act on Monday as a “despicable act of terrorism.” It is already the second attack on an educational institution in Kabul in less than ten days.

“Such acts are not only directed against innocent civilians, especially young people. They are also attacks on the future of Afghanistan. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders,” said a spokeswoman for EU foreign affairs officer Josep Borrell in Brussels.

UN General Secretary António Guterres also sharply condemned the fatal attack. The attack was “terrible” and also an attack on the human right to education, said Guterres in a statement. Those responsible would have to be held accountable.

Taliban Deny the Attack

The Taliban were swift to deny Monday’s attack but were accused by several Afghan government officials regardless. Since signing the peace deal with Washington, the Taliban have launched a nearly unprecedented campaign of violence against Afghan government forces and civilians. The United Nations documented 5,939 civilian casualties in the first nine months of 2020, including more than 2,000 killed, and said last week peace talks had failed to slow this toll.

The Afghan government has been talking to the militant Islamist Taliban about peace since September, but the country’s conflict continues with a high level of violence. A week ago, 24 schoolchildren died, and almost 60 were injured in a suicide attack by the Islamic State terrorist group in Kabul.