A group of militants left at least 13 people dead and 36 others wounded after they stormed the American University of Afghanistan (AUA) located in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
No group has taken responsibility for the attack, which began Wednesday with a car bomb explosion followed by gunfire. It ended early on Thursday when two militants were killed by Afghan special forces. U.S. military advisers backed the Afghan troops, according to the Pentagon.
Most terrorist attacks in volatile Kabul are carried out by the Taliban. However, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in the region has also carried out operations in the capital, including a recent attack deemed the deadliest of the nearly 15-year-old Afghanistan war.
U.S.-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said the militants behind the attack are based in Pakistan. The U.S. and Afghan governments have repeatedly accused the country, which borders Afghanistan, of serving as a sanctuary for terrorists, including the Afghan Taliban.
Reuters reports, “The Afghan presidential palace said in a statement that seven students, three security force personnel, two security guards and one professor were killed in the attack, the second incident involving the university this month.”
Earlier this month, two AUA professors, one American and the other one Australian, were kidnapped on their way home from the university. No group claimed responsibility for that attack, either.
Citing Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, the Associated Press (AP) and Afghanistan Times report that 36 people were injured in the attack this week, including students, university staff, and police officers.
“Most of the dead were killed by gunshots near the windows of their classrooms,” said Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
President Ghani said he has urged the Gen. Raheel Sharif, Pakistan’s army chief, to bring the attackers to justice, reports Khaama Press (KP).
The AP points out that “Pakistan’s military also issued a statement on the conversation between Ghani and Sharif, saying ‘Pakistani soil would not be allowed to be used for any type of terrorism in Afghanistan.'”
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the assault, “suspicions are pointing to the Taliban,” adds the AP.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid reportedly said the Taliban is “investigating” the attack.
Reuters notes that “The American University of Afghanistan has about 1,700 students and advertises itself as the country’s only not-for-profit, ‘non-partisan,’ co-educational university. It opened in 2006 and caters to full-time and part-time students.”