On May 29, 2021, a remote-controlled explosive device targeting a minibus carrying Al-Beroni University (also romanized as “Al-Beruni” and “Al-Biruni”) students and faculty was detonated, killing at least 4 and wounding 17 others.
The incident came during a period of increased targeted attacks against university professors and students in the country (see recent incidents here, here, and here). Fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces has also intensified in recent months.
According to police officials, the minibus was carrying students and faculty traveling from Parwan province to the university, located in the neighboring Kapisa province, when a bomb attached to the vehicle exploded. The chief medical officer at Parwan Hospital confirmed that the bomb killed 4 people, including at least 2 university lecturers, and injured 17 others, including the university’s dean and several students. Government spokespersons described the attack as targeted and said the explosive device was remote-controlled. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
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.