On June 2, 2019, alleged members of the Islamic State carried out a targeted bombing of a bus transporting students to the Kabul Education University of Rabbani. The attack reportedly left two dead and twenty-four injured.
The incident occurred as part of a wave of violence instigated by various non-state actors to destabilize the Afghan government amid the ongoing withdrawal of many US-led NATO forces from the country. In the three days before the June 2 attack, bombings allegedly carried out by the Islamic State and the Taliban reportedly killed at least 18 people in Afghanistan.
On June 2, an improvised explosive device that had been magnetically attached to a bus carrying university students was detonated in Kabul’s western Kot-e-Sangi district. The explosion reportedly killed a child outside the bus and injured ten others.
Minutes later, two roadside bombs planted near the site of the bus attack detonated as authorities were attending to victims, injuring an additional fourteen people. One other person was found killed at the site of the explosions. As of this report, it remains unclear how many students were injured in the attacks.
Later on the day of the attack, individuals identifying themselves as members of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings. The Islamic State has previously targeted higher education communities in Afghanistan with lethal violence, most recently killing 34 people in a suicide bombing at the Mowud Education Center in August 2018.
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about targeted, lethal violence against university students, and sends condolences to the victims’ families. In addition to the terrible loss of life and injuries, such attacks target the core values of higher education, including academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. 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.