Islamic State Attacks Kabul University, Leaves 22 Dead, 22 Wounded

November 4, 2020Joshua Skovlund
Kabul University

An Afghan soldier assists a wounded student from the Kabul University. Photo courtesy of Zeesha Khan/Twitter.

Three Islamic State group militants attacked Afghanistan’s largest university, Kabul University, on Monday around 11 a.m. local time, according to The Associated Press. The attack left 22 dead and 22 wounded, with concerns over the death toll increasing due to the severity of the wounds of several critically injured students. 

A spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres released a statement Monday saying, “The Secretary-General strongly condemns the horrific attack today at Kabul University in Afghanistan. He expresses his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.”

“This appalling attack, the second in 10 days on a school facility in Kabul, is also an assault on the human right to education,” the statement continued. “The Secretary-General reiterates that those responsible must be held accountable. The United Nations stands by the people and Government of Afghanistan in support of their long-held aspirations for peace.”

The militants entered the campus through the east gate, close to where the law and journalism schools are located. The attack lasted approximately six hours before the three attackers were killed. 


Videos and pictures emerged on social media showing the devastation of the attack. Several students were seen dead in classrooms, windows were shattered, and the walls were riddled with bullet impacts.

Students and teachers were seen escaping the campus after the attack began. Afghan Special Forces arrived to combat the terrorists and helped evacuate the students and faculty as machine-gun fire and grenades could be heard. 

The Taliban promptly denied any responsibility for the attack, according to multiple news sources. 

According to the AP, “The Islamic State group said it targeted newly graduated ‘judges and investigators belonging to the apostate Afghan government’ gathered at the campus, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terror online messaging.”

This attack came on the same day that the Afghan Ministry of Interior put out a press release announcing that the Afghan National Police had located and defused 11 different roadside bombs in Kabul and Khost, Afghanistan. 

Kabul University
Some of the casualties from the attack on Kabul University. Photos courtesy of Hassan Shahzad/Twitter. Composite by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The Islamic State group has committed other horrendous attacks in the past months. On May 12, ISIS-K militants stormed the maternity ward in the Kabul hospital and a suicide bomber attacked a funeral in Nangarhar. The attacks left 56 dead and more than 100 wounded, including infants and mothers, according to CBS News

No terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for the attacks, but US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said via Twitter, “The USG has assessed ISIS-K conducted the horrific attacks on a maternity ward and a funeral earlier this week in Afghanistan. ISIS has demonstrated a pattern for favoring these types of heinous attacks against civilians and is a threat to the Afghan people and to the world.” 

The tweet continued, “ISIS-K also opposes a peace agreement between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban, and seeks to encourage sectarian war as in Iraq and Syria. Rather than falling into the ISIS trap and delay peace or create obstacles, Afghans must come together to crush this menace and pursue a historic peace opportunity. No more excuses. Afghans, and the world, deserve better.”

Violence between the Afghan government and the Taliban has been ongoing and increasing since the US-Taliban peace deal was agreed to in February and the Afghan-Taliban peace talks began in September. The pursuit of peace in Afghanistan is constantly threatened by the violence committed by all sides involved, including terrorist organizations like the Islamic State group that oppose the peace deal.

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. He went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.

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