An Afghan official says one student is dead and 26 have been wounded in a militant attack on Kabul’s American University. Reports say a hundred students are trapped inside classrooms amid shootings and an explosion.
Officials said multiple attackers, some wearing suicide vests, entered the university campus at around 6.30pm Wednesday evening local time (UTC 14:00) and that a gunfight lasted for more than an hour..
“Several gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul, and there are reports of gunfire and explosions,” an Afghan interior ministry official said. “They are inside the compound, and there are foreign professors along with hundreds of students.”
Witnesses said the gunfire had since stopped.
Health Ministry spokesman Waheen Majroh said later that one student had died in the attack and 26 were wounded, some seriously.
No group has claimed responsibility for the assault but the Taliban has carried out a string of similar atrocities in recent months.
AP Photojournalist Massoud Hossaini said he was in a classroom with 15 students when he heard an explosion.
“I went to the window to see what was going on, and I saw a person in normal clothes outside. He shot at me and shattered the glass,” Hossaini said, adding that he fell on the glass and cut his hands. He later managed to escape with nine students.
Another journalist Ahmad Mukhtar said he and several friends had escaped the shooting but were concerned for others.
Other students also reported being stuck inside classrooms due to the shooting.
“We are stuck inside my class with other students. I heard explosions and gunfire going on close by,” a desperate student told the Agence France-Presse news agency by telephone.
Journalist Mustafa Kazemi described the sounds of multiple ambulance sirens being heard across Kabul.
He later tweeted this Facebook message from a student, purporting to be inside the building.
Members of the elite police force (CRU) quickly surrounded the campus as the attack unfolded and cordoned off the area.
The attack comes two weeks after two university staff were kidnapped from their car by unknown gunmen. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
A US defense official said a team of US military advisors are helping Afghan forces to respond to the attack, but not in a combat role.
The management of the American University of Afghanistan, which enrols more than 1,700 students, was not immediately reachable for comment.