At least 22 people have been killed when gunmen opened fire on students at Kabul University in Afghanistan

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At least 22 people were killed when attackers stormed one of Afghanistan’s largest universities on Monday, detonating a suicide bomb and spraying classrooms with bullets during a cheeky hour attacked by the Islamic State (IS) group.

The attack on Kabul University, which came as forces of violence across Afghanistan, marked the second time in less than two weeks that an educational institution was targeted in the capital by IS group extremists.

Survivors described horrific scenes after the incident, which unfolded around 6 p.m. 11 local time when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside campus.

Two gunmen then began firing, officials said, sending hundreds of students fleeing and encrypting over edge walls.

Fraidoon Ahmadi, a 23-year-old student, told AFP he was in class when shots were fired at the university.

“We were very scared and we thought it might be the last day of our lives … boys and girls shouted, prayed and shouted for help,” Ahmadi said.

He said he and other students were besieged for more than two hours before being rescued.

Worrying pictures posted online showed what appeared to be the bodies of slain students lying at desks and chairs.

The IS group said two of its fighters carried out the attack.

The Ministry of Public Health said at least 22 people were killed and 22 more injured. Officials said most of the injured were students.

Ghani promises revenge

It was not immediately clear how the attackers got their weapons into the university, which has security checks. Officials said an investigation was underway.

It took Afghan security forces, backed by US troops, several hours to clear the campus and declare the attack over.

The Taliban said they were not involved, but Vice President Amrullah Saleh blamed the rebel group and their supporters in Pakistan, even though he acknowledged an intelligence error.

“We will correct our intelligence errors. But the Taliban, their like-minded satanic allies next door, will never be able to wash their consciences over this stinking and unjust attack on Kbul uni,” Saleh wrote on Twitter.

Afghan authorities routinely accuse Islamabad of supporting the Taliban, accusing Pakistan of denying it.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry condemned Monday’s attack, which it said was a “despicable” attack on a learning center.

President Ashraf Ghani vowed to take revenge.

“We take revenge for this senseless attack and for every drop of innocent student blood shed today,” Ghani said in a statement released by the presidential palace.

Surgical violence

Over the years, several training centers have been attacked by extremist groups such as the IS group.

Last week, at least 24 people, mostly students, were killed in a suicide attack on a training center in western Kabul claimed by terrorist equipment.

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

NATO in Afghanistan condemned the recent massacre.

“Afghan children and young people need to feel safe in school. #NATO stands firm in all efforts to stop violence,” NATO envoy Stefano Pontecorvo said on Twitter.

Violence has escalated in recent weeks, despite ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the government, which began in Qatar in September.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy who negotiated a separate agreement with the Taliban in February, visited Islamabad on Monday, where he met with the head of the Pakistani military to discuss a “way forward for lasting peace in Afghanistan,” officials said.

Conversations have so far made little concrete progress.

( Jowharwith AFP)