In a shocking incident, two gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul at around 6:30pm local time (1400 GMT) on Wednesday.
At least twelve people were killed and created panic among hundreds of students. Officials said “The attack began with a large explosion said to be a car bomb followed by gunfire, as suspected militants battled into the complex where foreign staff and pupils were working.”
According to a senior interior ministry official as soon as the news about the attack spread, Afghan forces surrounded the walled compound and eventually worked their way inside.
“The fight is over and at least two attackers are killed,” a police official at the scene said. “Right now a clearance operation is ongoing by a criminal technique team. More details will be announced soon.”
Information on casualties remained uncertain, but the Afghan public health ministry said “one guard was killed and at least 21 people were wounded, six critically. No foreigners were reported among the wounded.”
Kabul police Chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said earlier on Thursday that “security forces had rescued around 500 students from the university, which is popular with Afghanistan’s elite.”
Terrified students ran into the classrooms or jumping from the second floor in order to escape.
“Many students jumped from the second floor, some broke their legs and some hurt their head trying to escape,” Abdullah Fahimi, a student who escaped, told Reuters. He injured his ankle making the leap.
“We were in the class when we heard a loud explosion followed by gunfire. It was very close. Some students were crying, others were screaming.”
Ahmad Mukhtar, who also fled, said “the gunmen had got into the university buildings despite security measures, including armed guards and watchtowers.”
“I finished my class and was about to leave when I heard a few gunshots and a huge explosion, followed by more gunfire,” he said. “I ran toward the emergency exit with other students, climbed the wall and jumped outside.”
The American University of Afghanistan has about 1,700 students. It opened in 2006 and caters to full-time and part-time course for students.
The United States said “we are closely monitoring the situation in Kabul following the university attack and that forces from the US-led coalition were involved in the response in an advise and assist role.”
State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said “the US Embassy was working to account for all of its personnel and to locate and assist any US citizens affected by the attack.”
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BY M.DIVYA SRI