The American University was attacked today, August 24, in Kabul Afghanistan. At least one person has already been reported dead, and 18 have been severely wounded. Security forces exchanged gunfire with the attackers.
The gunfire was reported to be in the vicinity of the university and was confirmed by the Kabul police force.
The victims have not all been publicly identified at this date and time, according to ABC News.
The U.S. State Department made a statement after the attacks and acknowledged the reports on their official Twitter account, posting, “Reports of attack on American University in Kabul. Exercise caution, avoid unnecessary movement in the area & monitor news for update.”
According to the source, a Pulitzer prize-winning photographer for The Associated Press, Massoud Hossaini, tweeted that he was trapped inside the university grounds during the attack.
“Help we are stuck inside AUAF and shooting flollowed [sic] by Explo this maybe my last tweets.”
Fortunately, The Associated Press later confirmed that Hossaini was safe and had escaped from the school.
The attackers also entered Noor Hospital, which is adjacent to the university.
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The American University of Afghanistan opened in 2006. First Lady, Laura Bush, helped launch the institution on a 2005 visit to Kabul.
Funding for the American University has come from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which administers foreign aid. Today, in 2016, the school has more than 1,700 full and part-time students. The university maintains partnerships with U.S. colleges, including Stanford, Georgetown, and the University of California.
The American University of Afghanistan is not new to violent threats.
Just earlier this month, two professors, one American and one Australian, were abducted at gunpoint outside of the campus.
The professors, who have been identified as Kevin King and Timothy Weeks, were abducted by men in military uniforms on August 7 as they traveled between their homes in Kabul and the university’s campus.
In 2014, two people employed by the University of Afghanistan were killed when a suicide bomber set off an explosion in a Kabul restaurant that was popular with expats.
School President Mark English confirmed the attack to The Associated Press. Mohammad Saleem Rasouly, head of the city’s hospitals, said at least one student was killed during the attack, which involved an explosion and extended gunfire around 7 p.m. local time. Police officials announced that special forces were on their way.
“We’re dealing with a complex attack inside the American University. ‘Special forces’ are en route to the scene.”
It was reported that students were trapped inside the campus grounds for hours. Special-forces fighters were said to have entered the property after nightfall.
“Several gunman attacked the American University in Kabul and there are reports of gunfire and explosions. They are inside the compound and there are foreign professors along with hundreds of students.”
It is not yet clear whether there were one or two attackers at the scene. Public health official, Hedayatullah Stanikzai, said a guard employed by the university had been killed, and one of the wounded was a foreign teacher.
Five of the wounded are reportedly women, according to Dejan Panic, the program director at Kabul’s emergency hospital.
A car bomb had exploded outside a school for the blind next door before at least one attacker fired at the university campus from the school building.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The Taliban have been fighting to take over the Kabul government for nearly two decades. The Taliban regards foreign civilians as legitimate targets.
The students allegedly barricaded themselves into classrooms, pushing chairs and desks against the door and keeping their bodies low to the floor.
[Photo by sshepard/iStock by Getty Images]