On August 15, 2018, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at the Mowud Education Center (MEC) in Kabul’s Dasht-i-Barchi district, killing 34 and leaving at least 57 injured.
At the time of the attack, approximately five hundred high school graduates in their teens and twenties, many of whom belong to Kabul’s minority Hazara community, were sitting for university entrance exams. The bomber reportedly made his way past security guards and detonated his explosive vest on the ground floor of MEC.
A day after the attack, on August 16, the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack. IS has frequently targeted schools, mosques, and cultural centers, including those of Afghanistan’s Hazara community. The August 15 attack on MEC appears to fit a pattern of these attacks.
As of this report, Afghan authorities are investigating how the suicide bomber was able to enter the guarded education center.
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about targeted, violent, extremist attacks on an education center, and sends condolences to the victims’ families and to the Mowud Education Center community. In addition to the terrible loss of life and injuries, such attacks target the core values of higher education, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to state authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.