On September 30, 2022, a suicide bomber carried out an attack on the Kaaj Educational Center in Kabul, leaving 53 dead and 110 injured.
The assailant reportedly shot at guards outside of the center, entered the building, and detonated the bomb in a classroom. During the attack, about 600 students were in a gender-segregated classroom taking a practice university entrance exam. The assailant reportedly targeted the women’s side of the classroom. 46 of the students killed were girls and young women. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The tuition center, a private organization that teaches both male and female students, is located in a part of Kabul home to the Shi’a Hazara community, and ethnic minority group that has long suffered persecution, including violent attacks, in the country. While public schools have been closed to girls since the Taliban’s takeover, private schools and tuition and educational centers are the few institutions available for young women who wish to continue their education. In October 2020, a similar attack was carried out on the Kawsar-e Danish Educational Center in Kabul (see report).
Scholars at Risk is gravely concerned about a targeted, violent attack on an education center, and sends condolences to the victims’ families and to the Kaaj Educational 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 right to education, equitable access, 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 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.