Viet Nam News
KABUL – An attack at the American University in Kabul ended early today after two attackers were killed, police said nearly 10 hours after militants stormed the complex, prompting desperate pleas for help from trapped students.
The attack triggered explosions and gunfire, killing at least one person and wounding 26 others in a raid which comes just weeks after two university professors - an American and an Australian - were kidnapped at gunpoint near the school.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the assault, but it occurred as Taliban insurgents ramp up their nationwide summer offensive against the Western-backed Kabul government.
"We have ended our clean-up operation. Two attackers were gunned down," Fraidoon Obaidi, chief of Kabul police’s Criminal Investigation Department, said without offering any details.
Local media reported that hundreds of students had been rescued during the overnight operation, many of whom tweeted anguished messages for help, with some using classroom furniture to barricade the doors.
Among them was Associated Press photojournalist Massoud Hossaini, who was said to be wounded and later managed to escape with some fellow students.
The attack started on Wednesday evening, when the private university is usually packed with students, many of them working professionals doing part-time courses.
"I heard explosions and gunfire is going on close by... our classroom is filled with smoke and dust," an anxious student said by telephone, before fleeing the campus.
Authorities refused to confirm whether any hostages had been taken.
NATO military advisers were helping Afghan forces to respond to the attack, a US official said, without specifying how many troops were involved.
Many of the wounded were rushed into waiting ambulances outside the university on stretchers, as erratic gunshots rang out through the night from inside the complex.
Obaidi declined to confirm details on casualties but the health ministry said late Wednesday that at least one person had been killed and 26 others wounded, many of them critically.
"We send our thoughts and prayers to the families of those killed and our heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to those wounded," the US National
Security Council said in a statement, strongly condemning the attack.
The elite American University of Afghanistan, which opened in 2006 and enrolls more than 1,700 students, is seen as a high-profile target for militants partly because it attracts foreign faculty members.
The two foreign professors at the university were seized from their vehicle on August 7, as the kidnappers smashed the passenger window and hauled them away at gunpoint.
It was apparently the first reported abduction related to a private university in Afghanistan.
Their whereabouts are still unknown and no group so far has publicly claimed responsibility for the abductions, the latest in a series of kidnappings of foreigners in the conflict-torn country. – AFP