Islamic State militants sparked an hours-long gun battle which left at least 22 dead and 22 wounded during a book fair attended by the Iranian ambassador at Kabul University in Afghanistan.
Reportedly, most of the casualties of the gun battle were students, and there are fears that the death toll could climb higher, as some of the wounded are said to be in critical condition.
This was the second attack on an educational institution in Kabul in as many weeks.
The Taliban quickly issued a statement denying any part in the assault, as the insurgent group is currently in peace talks with representatives of the U.S.-backed Kabul government. The aim of these talks is the eventual withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan.
Later in the day, the Islamic State group (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
Students and faculty were seen fleeing the attack, which took place in the area of campus where law and journalism schools are located, as hand grenades exploded and automatic rifle fire was head.
The Afghan Special Forces surrounded the campus, guiding students and faculty to safety.
The Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Tariq Arian, said all three attackers involved in the assault were killed.
According to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terror online messaging, the Islamic State group said it was targeting newly graduated “judges and investigators belonging to the apostate Afghan government” gathered at the campus.
The statement by the IS group claimed that only two fighters were involved in the attack, and posted their photographs. This conflicts with the report by Afghan authorities which stated that there were three terrorists. The claim did not indicate that the attack was intended to target the Iranian envoy or the book fair.