Reports: American University of Afghanistan under attack

Posted at 12:13 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 12:18:17-04

KABUL, Afghanistan — The American University of Afghanistan in Kabul is under attack, according to multiple accounts, CBS news reports.

The network reported that CBS News’ Ahmad Mukhtar in Afghanistan said “several American professors are inside, along with possibly hundreds of students. Many appear to have escaped through emergency doors.”

American University President Mark English confirmed an attack to the Associated Press but no other details have been provided.

The Afghan university teaches an American-style academic curriculum, which is why they use the word ‘American’ in their title. They are not affiliated with the university in Washington D.C.

CNN reported that fires are burning on the campus, according to Tarek Mahjari, a reporter for Tolo News who reported the details in a phone interview with his employer. Ambulances, security forces and search and rescue teams are en route to the university. The blast occurred at 7:50 p.m. local, when students were gathering and eating together. Officials tell CNN that it is too early to comment.

From CBS news reports: 

Witnesses say they heard gunshots, then a blast, and many believe it was the gate blown open, letting the attackers inside.

Police spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told the AP police and intelligence agency personnel are at the campus, on the western outskirts of Kabul. He said police believe there is just one assailant.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossaini tweeted that he is trapped inside along with others.

Two professors — an American and an Australian — were kidnapped recently from the university on the 8th of August. Five gunmen wearing Afghan military uniforms abducted the pair at gunpoint.

The two foreigners were taken from their SUV while driving on Sunday night on a main road near the American University of Afghanistan, according to Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry.

Though kidnapping is sometimes the work of criminal gangs, the fear is that the hostages could be “sold up” to the Taliban, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has been fighting to gain hold in Afghanistan.

Kidnappings are not uncommon in Afghanistan. Three other foreigners who were kidnapped in Kabul over the past year have all been released, including an Indian woman, Judith D’Souza who was freed last month after being held for more than a month.

An Australian woman, Kerry Jane Wilson, was abducted in the eastern city of Jalalabad in April. Her whereabouts are unknown.