The American University of Afghanistan was attacked on Wednesday evening in Kabul. Eyewitnesses described an explosion followed by gunshots as some students attempted to escape the scene while others hid in classrooms. Dozens of people had been at the university participating in evening classes.
Police and emergency medical responders arrived on the scene quickly, and a police spokesman told the Los Angeles Times that they believed there was just one assailant, whose identity and motives were not immediately clear.
The first reports of an attack came from Associated Press photographer Massoud Hossaini, via Twitter, at around 7pm in Kabul. “Help we are stuck inside AUAF and shooting flollowed [sic] by Explo this maybe my last tweets,” he wrote. The tweet was deleted shortly after.
The LA Times spoke to Hossaini approximately two hours later, after he’d escaped to safety. He said he had been in a classroom with 15 students when they heard an explosion. When he looked out a window to see what was going on, a man shot at him, shattering the glass, which Hossaini cut his hands on after falling. Then he and other students barricaded themselves in the classroom using chairs and desks before making a dash for safety outside. They ran through an emergency gate and took shelter inside a nearby house.
“As we were running, I saw someone lying on the ground facedown,” Hossaini said. “They looked like they had been shot in the back.”
Around 9pm local time, journalist Mustafa Kazemi reported that all of the university’s students and staff members had gotten safely out of the building.
Reuters reports that amid “sketchy” information about casualties, a hospital official in Kabul said at least one university student had been killed and 14 injured. The recent abduction of two AUAF professors, who were kidnapped at gunpoint on August 7 and are still missing, remains fresh on the community’s mind.