Afghan students
Students and civil society activists hold banners in protest as they shout slogans, a day after gunmen stormed Kabul university in Kabul on November 3, 2020 Image Credit: AFP

Kabul: Stunned students demonstrated outside Kabul University on Tuesday after at least 22 people were killed in a brutal, on-campus attack claimed by Daesh.

Holding banners stating: 'Stop Killing Us', the small gathering came as Afghanistan observed a national day of mourning and the first funerals were expected.

Monday's assault at the popular university near central Kabul saw three attackers - one of whom blew himself up - rampage through the campus, shooting students in their classrooms.

Daesh also claimed a similar attack on an educational centre in Kabul less than two weeks ago that killed 24 people.

Afghan security forces have been grappling with surging violence that has only worsened in recent months despite the government holding peace talks with the Taliban.

The insurgent group have said they were not involved in Monday's attack, but Vice President Amrullah Saleh blamed them and their supporters in Pakistan.

The Taliban have in turn blamed "evil elements" that have "sought refuge" with the Kabul administration, accusing the government of harbouring and assisting militants.

Fraidoon Ahmadi, a 23-year-old student, told AFP on Monday he was in class when gunfire broke out.

"We were very scared and we thought it could be the last day of our lives... boys and girls were shouting, praying and crying for help," Ahmadi said.

He said he and other students were besieged for more than two hours before being rescued.

Afghan policemen
Afghan policemen stand guard at the entrance gate of Kabul University after yesterday's attack in Kabul, Afghanistan November 3, 2020 Image Credit: Reuters

Images posted online showed what appeared to be the bodies of slain students lying by desks and chairs.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy who helped bring the warring Taliban and Kabul government together for talks, urged the two sides to accelerate a political settlement.

"This barbaric attack is NOT an opportunity for the government and the Taliban to score points against each other. There is a common enemy here," he tweeted.

"Deny [Daesh] or any other terrorist the space to carry out these inhumane acts," he added, using another name for the terrorist group.

President Ashraf Ghani has vowed to take revenge for the assault, with an investigation under way to determine how the gunmen entered the university with weapons.

Afghanistan declares day of mourning

The Afghan government announced Tuesday as a national day of mourning as a tribute to the 22 victims who lost their lives during a terror attack at the Kabul University a day earlier.

The Afghan flag will fly at half-mast across the country and at all diplomatic missions around the world, TOLO News quoted the Presidential Palace as saying.

In a message on the attack, that also injured over 20 others, President Ashraf Ghani said: "The enemies of knowledge and progress continued to terrorise our people and perpetrated a vicious terrorist attack on Kabul University.

"We convey a clear message to all terrorist groups including Taliban that such acts of terror and atrocity can never deter the resolve of the great Afghan nation for a peaceful, stable and thriving Afghanistan.

"We will take revenge for this senseless attack and for any drop of innocent students' blood spilled today. Our heroic defence and security forces will chase you, find you at any corner and wipe you out.

"I enunciate to the brutal enemies of Afghanistan that this attack will not remain without response; we will retaliate," the President added.