Afghan forces captured the “mastermind” of a brutal attack on Kabul University when fighters stormed classrooms and killed dozens of students earlier this month.
At least 22 people were killed and another 27 wounded when three gunmen rampaged through the university on November 2, spraying classrooms with bullets for several hours.
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The brazen daylight assault came amid surging violence across the country that has only worsened in recent months despite the government holding peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
“The mastermind behind Kabul University attack has been arrested,” Vice President Amrullah Saleh announced on his Facebook page on Saturday.
The assault, which ended after the three attackers were killed, was planned by a man called Adil, Saleh said.
Adil was recruited by the Haqqani network, Saleh said, giving only one name of the arrested man.
“The attack was carried out to pressure, defame and make the government look weak in front of the people,” he said.
Adil hailed from the province of Panjshir but his family lived on the outskirts of Kabul. “Adil had been missing for three years amid rumours that he had gone to receive training in war and fighting,” Saleh said.
During his questioning, Adil revealed he had received weapons from the Haqqani network to carry out the attack, Saleh added.
The shadowy Haqqani network, an affiliate of the Taliban, has long been accused of carrying out assaults on Western military forces and civilians and has been branded a “terrorist” group by the United States.
Saleh and other top officials initially blamed the Taliban for the university attack, but the armed group denied involvement.
The attack was claimed by the ISIL (ISIS) armed group. Days before the university assault, ISIL claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing near an educational centre in a western district of Kabul that killed 24 people.