On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, Gunmen ambushed a bus transporting university students, staff, and professors in Baghlan province, killing the driver and a student, in northeastern Afghanistan. Six university lecturers were also injured during the attack. According to BBC Persian, Jawed Basharat, the Baghlan province spokesman, stated that the attack took place during the morning rush hour on the outskirts of the provincial capital city of Pul-e-Khumri while the bus was traveling toward Baghlan university.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but a Taliban spokesman said the militant group was not involved in the attack.
Afghanistan is experiencing a countrywide spike in targeted killings, bombing, and other forms of violence. Attacking universities and university professors and staff is not new in Afghanistan. As we reported on November 2, 2020, Islamic State-affiliated gunmen stormed Afghanistan’s largest university, killing more than 22 students and wounded another 22, and forcing thousands of others to flee the Kabul University campus in a hail of gunfire. In October 2020, ISIL claimed another brutal attack on a training center in Kabul that killed at least 24 students and wounded more than 100 others.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide condemns this heinous crime in the strongest possible terms and stands in solidarity with the victims' families. In recent years, students, professors, and academics have been increasingly targeted in violent attacks— an unacceptable trend that hurts societies' future at large. As all-in-one symbols of freedom, empowerment, and peace, universities are increasingly targeted for the values they promote, which stand in strong contrast with the extremist ideology and ruthless methods of terrorist groups. Endangered Scholars Worldwide recalls that schools and universities must be protected from attacks, as stated in the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict (formerly known as the Lucens Guidelines).