At least 22 people have been killed in an attack before the opening of an Iranian book fair at Kabul University in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
According to an Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman, the situation was brought under control after three assailants were killed after several hours of operation on Monday.
A regional group from the so-called Islamic State militant organization has claimed responsibility for the attack.
There were also reports of 22 people being injured in the attack.
The government declared mourning in the country on Tuesday.
Earlier, the Taliban denied any involvement in the attack. Hours later, the Islamic State said in a statement on the Telegram app that it had “targeted the graduation of judges and investigative officers working for the Afghan government.”
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Attack on Education institutes
Educational institutions in Afghanistan have often been targeted. The Islamic State also attacked an educational centre last month, killing 24 people. The group also carried out an explosion outside Kabul University in 2018, killing dozens.
Hamid Obaidi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Ministry of Higher Education, told AFP that the attack began as some senior government officials were about to arrive to attend the opening of a book fair at the university. Video footage from the university shows students trying to leave the university campus.
Violence has escalated in Afghanistan in recent days as Afghan peace talks between the Taliban and the Kabul government continue.
An eyewitness, Fatehullah Moradi, told Reuters that the attackers tried to shoot the student they saw and also targeted students who were running away from them.
According to another eyewitness, at 1:30 pm, three assailants entered the university where a large number of students were present.
Statements of Afghan officials
An Interior Ministry spokesman said the three assailants entered the university and opened fire, according to the BBC’s the security forces’ operation against the attackers lasted for more than five hours.
A spokesman for the Interior Ministry said security forces had rescued hundreds of students and helped them in getting out of the university. The spokesman did not say who the attackers were or why they targeted Kabul University.