ISLAMABAD - Several gunmen entered Kabul university Monday morning and opened fire, killing at least 19 people and wounding more than 20 others.
Students and faculty rushed out of classes and tried to escape the campus, some climbing the barbed wired walls of the university to get to safety. A video uploaded to Twitter by Afghan TV channel Tolo news shows students running as gunshots are heard in the background.
“My students and I tried to leave the university. The situation was very tense. Everyone was running,” said one professor who did not want to be named.
Security forces soon surrounded the area and cordoned it off. Several armored security vehicles could be seen outside the university. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the ministry of interior, said the security forces were combing the university but moving slowly to avoid civilian casualties.
Eyewitnesses said they saw several gunmen open fire on students inside the campus.
Most students, staff, and faculty members were evacuated, according to Hamed Obaidi, a spokesman for the ministry of higher education. Security personnel were seen distributing water to those who escaped and helping the wounded into ambulances. Obaidi said the shots were heard near the schools of law and political science.
In a video shared by Tolo news, a student described how he was rushed out from the playground.
“We were playing football . . . when we heard gun shots. Meanwhile, police came and told us to run since there was an attack,” the student Safiullah said.
Islamic State’s local branch, IS Khorasan Province, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the SITE Intel group.
The Afghan Taliban earlier denied responsibility.
While the reason for the attack is not clear, Monday was the inauguration of an Afghan-Iran book exhibition at the university.
Several senior Afghan officials and Iran’s ambassador to Afghanistan were expected to be there. It was not clear whether any officials were on campus at the time of the attack.