SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 10, 2014

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Kandahar State University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 10, 2014, an estimated 35 professors and 8-10 students from Kandahar State University were kidnapped in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.

According to reports, Taliban-affiliated gunmen attacked a bus traveling from Kandahar to Kabul, carrying the students and professors home for a nation-wide, six-day university holiday, recently established to coincide with the upcoming Afghan elections.  The attackers forced the professors and students off the bus and into other vehicles, where they were transported to unknown locations.  One professor was injured during the attack and was later taken to a nearby hospital.  As of this writing, the professors’ and students’ whereabouts remain unknown.  However, it is reported that tribal elders have engaged in negotiations with the Taliban to secure their release.  According to a spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, Taliban insurgents have indicated that the professors would be released following the runoff election scheduled to take place on June 14.

Scholars at Risk is concerned about the attack and kidnapping of a group of professors and students, and about the ongoing threat to their physical safety and liberty.  State officials have a responsibility to ensure the security of higher education communities, to prevent future attacks, and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Update: The professors were reportedly released from custody early Monday, June 23, 2014.