Gun, bomb attack on American University
in Kabul kills 12: police
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[August 25, 2016]
By Mirwais Harooni and Hamid Shalizi
KABUL (Reuters) - Twelve people, including
seven students, were killed in an attack on the American University in
Kabul that sent hundreds of students fleeing in panic, police said on
Thursday, before the assault ended when two gunmen were shot dead.
The attack began at around 6:30 p.m. (1400 GMT) on Wednesday with a
large explosion that officials said was a car bomb followed by gunfire,
as suspected militants battled into the complex where foreign staff and
pupils were working.
Elite Afghan forces surrounded the walled compound and eventually worked
their way inside, according to a senior interior ministry official.
Sporadic gunfire could be heard through the night and, before dawn,
police said the operation had concluded after they killed at least two
There was no claim of responsibility for an attack in which Kabul police
chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said seven students, three policemen and two
security guards were killed, the second incident involving the
university this month.
President Ashraf Ghani called the assault "a cowardly attempt to hinder
progress and development in Afghanistan".
"Attacking educational institutions and public places and targeting
civilians will not only fail to shake our determination, but will
further strengthen it to fight and eradicate terror," he said in a
Islamist militant groups, mainly the Afghan Taliban and a local offshoot
of Islamic State, have claimed a string of recent bomb attacks aimed at
destabilizing Afghanistan and toppling the Western-backed government of
One Ugandan man - a faculty member - was among the wounded, according to
a list at the Kabul emergency hospital.
In a statement, the university said it was working with authorities to
make sure everyone was accounted for.
"My number one priority at this point is the safety and security of all
faculty staff, and students," said Mark A. English, the university
Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of the Kabul police Criminal Investigation
Department, told Reuters that police had evacuated between 700 and 750
students from the university, which is popular with the children of
Terrified students recounted barricading themselves in classrooms or
jumping from windows 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," he said.
Others said they scrambled toward an emergency exit, scaled walls and
jumped to safety.
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Afghan policemen walk after an attack at the American University of
Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammad
The university buildings are protected by armed guards and
watchtowers but the gunmen still got in.
Edrees Nawabi, another student at the university, said he had long
been concerned about campus security.
"We were scared but also we wanted to be educated," he said.
It was the second time this month that the university or its staff
had been targeted.
Two teachers, an American and an Australian, were abducted at
gunpoint from a road near the university on Aug. 7. They are
The American University of Afghanistan has about 1,700 students and
advertises itself as the country's only not-for-profit,
"non-partisan", co-educational university. It opened in 2006 and
caters to full-time and part-time students.
Taliban insurgents control large swaths of Afghanistan, and the
security forces are struggling to contain them, especially in the
provinces of Helmand to the south and Kunduz to the north.
NATO ended its combat mission in December 2014 but thousands of
foreign troops remain to train and assist Afghan forces, while
several thousand other U.S. soldiers are engaged in a separate
mission focusing on al Qaeda and Islamic State.
The United States said it was closely monitoring the situation in
Kabul following the university attack and that forces from the
U.S.-led coalition were involved in the response in an
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the U.S. Embassy
was working to account for all of its personnel and to locate and
assist any U.S. citizens affected.
(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe, Susan Heavey and Arshad
Mohammed in WASHINGTON; Writing by Mike Collett-White and Lincoln
Feast; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Paul Tait)
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