Update 2: Reuters writes that foreign staff and dozens of students were trapped inside the campus of the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday after suspected militants attacked it with explosives and gunfire, a senior government official said.
The interior ministry official said that elite Afghan forces had surrounded the university compound, where shooting lasted for more than an hour after the assault began at around 6.30 p.m. (10:00 a.m. EDT). Witnesses at the scene said gunfire had since stopped, and special forces had made their way into the compound.
News on casualties was sketchy, but Mohammad Saleem Rasouly, head of hospitals in the Afghan capital, told Reuters that at least one student had been killed and 14 wounded. Islamist militant groups, mainly the Afghan Taliban and a local offshoot of Islamic State, have claimed a string of atrocities aimed at destabilizing the country and toppling the Western-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani.
No one has claimed the university attack yet.
Early reports suggested that several gunmen, some wearing suicide vests, were involved, the official said. "Several gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul and there are reports of gunfire and explosions," he said. "They are inside the compound and there are foreign professors along with hundreds of students."
Ahmad Shaheer, a student, told Reuters by telephone that he was trapped inside the university. "We are stuck inside our classroom and there are bursts of gunfire," he said.
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Update: At least 7 people have been killed and 20 others have been injured, police have told Afghan journalist Bilal Sarwary
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As we detailed earlier, gunmen have stormed American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday night as witnesses said they heard gunfire and explosions ringing out. According to media reports, the attackers have infiltrated the educational institution. Teachers and hundreds of students are said to be sheltering inside the building.
American Univ. in Kabul is reportedly under attack -American teachers & hundreds of students are sheltering inside https://t.co/QJPc6jZzDt— Bret Baier (@BretBaier) August 24, 2016
A CBS confirms, the American University of Afghanistan is currently under attack. CBS News’ Ahmad Muktar reports from Afghanistan that several American professors are inside, along with possibly hundreds of students. Many appear to have escaped through emergency doors.
"Several gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul and there are reports of gunfire and explosions," an interior ministry official told Reuters. "They are inside the compound and there are foreign professors along with hundreds of students."
Local network TOLOnews reported there was an initial explosion before the gunmen infiltrated the high-walled campus, located in a relatively secure and upmarket part of Kabul.
Twitter eyewitnesses said that some students were able to make it out in time, as soon as they heard the blast, while others were locked down in their classrooms and offices.
"We're dealing with a complex attack inside the American University. Special forces are en route," a representative of Kabul's rapid reaction force told local journalis
Witnesses say they heard gunshots, then a blast, and many believe it was the gate blown open, letting the attackers inside.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossaini has been tweeting that he is trapped inside along with others.
Help we are stuck inside AUAF and shooting flollowed by Explo this maybe my last tweets— Massoud Hossaini (@Massoud151) August 24, 2016
Afghanistan’s 1TV news reported that there were “multiple” dead and wounded on campus. The channel also cited eyewitness reports claiming that some of the attackers may have entered Noor Hospital, located next door to the educational facility.
The American University of Afghanistan was established in 2006 with the help of US funds and remains the country’s leading private university. All classes are taught in English, and there are currently over 2,000 students enrolled. Earlier this month, two professors, an American and an Australian citizen, were kidnapped from its campus.