Militants attacked the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least one person and wounding another 18, officials said, adding that security forces were still combing the campus in search of attackers.
The number of people dead or injured is undetermined at this point, but ambulances have arrived on the scene and are carting victims to nearby hospitals.
According to the New York Times, a car bomb exploded outside AU’s school for the blind next door as another assailant emerged to fire on the main campus from that building.
Journalists and witnesses in the area have said students and staff scurried to find shelter and safety from what a police officials described as “a complex attack” that began at 7 p.m. local time Wednesday.
“Several gunmen attacked the American University in Kabul and there are reports of gunfire and explosions,” the official said. “They are inside the compound and there are foreign professors along with hundreds of students.”
Police spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said police and intelligence agency personnel are at the campus, on the western outskirts of Kabul. He said police believe there is just one assailant.
“We are trying to assess the situation,” American University President Mark English told The Associated Press.
Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossain was in a classroom with 15 students when he heard an explosion on the southern flank of the campus.
“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.
The students then barricaded themselves into the classroom, pushing chairs and desks against the door, and staying on the floor.
Hossaini tweeted earlier: “Help we are stuck inside AUAF and shooting flollowed by Explo this maybe my last tweets.” That tweet has since been deleted.
Hossaini and about nine students managed to escape from the campus through a northern emergency gate.
Another combat journalist, Mustafa Kusemi, has been collecting social media messages from students trapped inside the building.
One Twitter user was able to show video of the scene around the university:
American University was established in Afghanistan ten years ago has about 1,700 students enrolled there from around the world.
Just two weeks ago, two American University employees – an American and an Australian – were kidnapped at gunpoint in Kabul by men in military uniforms.
At the time President English said the university is “devastated by the news and will remain vigilant to ensure the safety and security of all university personnel and students.”
English said the university was working closely with security agencies to secure the freedom of the two men, who were abducted as they travelled between the campus and their residence in Kabul.
The names of the two abducted university employees have not been released. Their whereabouts are still unknown.
Story compiled with information from Associated Press, Reuters and Twitter.
Jawed Wahdat on Kabul AU explosion
For more about Kabul AU explosion, CCTV America’s Asieh Namdar interviewed Jawed Wahdat, a explosion witness Student at American University in Kabul.