At least 19 killed and 22 injured as gunmen storm Kabul University

2 November 2020, 15:02 | Updated: 2 November 2020, 15:11

Kabul University attack Afghanistan
Afghan security forces stand guard after the attack at Kabul University . Picture: Getty

By Patrick Grafton-Green

At least 19 people have been killed and 22 injured after three gunmen stormed Kabul University sparking a siege that lasted several hours.

The university – Afghanistan's oldest with some 17,000 students – was hosting a book fair attended by the Iranian ambassador to the country when the gunmen attacked.

All three died while exchanging gunfire with security forces.

The country's Interior Ministry said the siege is now over.

No group immediately took responsibility for the attack, with the Taliban issuing a statement saying they were not involved.

Kabul University attack Afghanistan
A victim of the attack at Kabul University. Picture: Getty

University student Ahmad Samim told journalists he saw the militants, armed with pistols and assault rifles, firing at the school.

He said the attack happened on the university's eastern side where its law and journalism faculty teach.

Afghan officials declined to comment on the book fair but Iran's ISNA news agency reported on Sunday that Iranian ambassador Bahador Aminian and cultural attache Mojtaba Noroozi were scheduled to inaugurate the fair, which was expected to host some 40 Iranian publishers.

Iranian diplomats previously have been targeted by attacks in the country.

In 1998, Iran held the Taliban responsible for the deaths of nine Iranian diplomats who were working in its consulate in northern Afghanistan and sent reinforcements to the border that Iran and Afghanistan share.

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 have progressed slowly and despite repeated demands for a reduction in violence, the chaos has continued.

Last year, a bomb outside the campus's 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.