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: October 24, 2020

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Kawsar-e Danish Educational Center

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On October 24, 2020, a suicide bomber carried out an attack on the Kawsar-e Danish Educational Center in Kabul, leaving at least 24 dead and 57 injured.

The assailant detonated a suicide vest when guards stationed outside the educational center spotted him. Sources indicate that victims ranged in age from 15-26, with most being students waiting to enter the center. The Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for the attack; however, this has not been confirmed as of this report.

The educational center, which offers tutoring for students preparing for higher education, is located in an area with a large population of Shia Muslims. Shias, a religious minority in Afghanistan, have routinely been the target of attacks in recent years. In August 2018, a similar attack was carried out on the Mowud Education Center, located in the same district of Kabul (see report). The October 24 attack occurred amidst a reported uptick in violence in between Taliban and Afghan forces.

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 Kawsar-e Danish Educational Center. 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.