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: March 16, 2021

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Baghlan University

Region & Country:Southern Asia | Afghanistan

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On March 16, 2021, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a Baghlan University bus carrying students and faculty, killing the bus driver and one student.

According to police officials, the bus was taking students and faculty from the Faculty of Agriculture to the main campus when gunmen opened fire, killing the driver and student. Six faculty were reportedly hospitalized for injuries sustained from the attack. The attack comes during a period of increased targeted attacks in the country. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings.

Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted, violent attack on members of the higher education community and offers condolences to the victims’ families, friends, and colleagues. In addition to the terrible loss of life, such attacks target higher education’s core values, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, and social responsibility. State authorities are responsible for safeguarding 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.