American University of Afghanistan attack

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2016 American University of Afghanistan attack
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2015–present)
Saleha Bayat Building at AUAF in Kabul-2.jpg
The American University of Afghanistan.
LocationAmerican University of Afghanistan, Kabul, Kabul Province, Afghanistan
Coordinates34°28′32″N 69°7′34″W / 34.47556°N 69.12611°W / 34.47556; -69.12611
Date24 August 2016 (2016-08-24)
Approximately 7:00 p.m. - 5:00 a.m. (UTC+04:30)
TargetUniversity students & workers
Attack type
Car bombings, shootings, school shooting
WeaponsTruck bomb, guns
Deaths17 (+3 attackers)
Non-fatal injuries
53+
Suspected perpetrators
Taliban are the main suspect, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also being a susect
Defenders

On 24 August 2016, attackers who are suspected members of the Taliban stormed the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, Afghanistan using a car bomb and automatic weapons. Sixteen to at least seventeen people were killed, including eight university students, three policemen, three security guards at the university, and two university professors. Fifty to at least 53 people were injured, some critically. Three of the attackers were killed by Afghan Special Forces. This was the first direct attack on the university, although in the past related attacks have left 21 people dead and two people kidnapped.[1][2][3]

Background

Afghanistan had been experiencing a significant amount of terror attacks during the War in Afghanistan (2015–present), including the large July 2016 Kabul bombing. In the past, incidents related to employees at the American University of Afghanistan include a terrorist attack in which around 21 people were killed, including two employees, and a kidnapping of two foreign professors by men dressed in Afghan National Police uniforms on August 7.[4][5][6] American special forces later failed in an operation to try and rescue them.[7]

The American University of Afghanistan was chartered in 2004 and established in 2006. It is an "Independent, self-governing, not-for-profit university operating on the US liberal arts model". It is Afghanistan's "top institution for higher education" with many foreign employees. It was started by Dr. Sharif Fayez and is supported by many prominent American politicians.

Attack

The attack began at 19:03 during the evening classes at the university, when around 700 students were in attendance. The university was surrounded by a fortified wall. A truck filled with explosives was driven up to the wall and blown up, leaving a large hole in the wall. Two assailants then entered the compound, prompting employees and students to panic while fleeing and hiding. A nearly ten-hour-long siege then ensued, which lasted overnight. Hundreds of trapped students "pleaded for help" as an explosion followed gunshots, some sending messages on Twitter. Students used "furniture" in the classroom to barricade doors, with others making a "mad scramble to escape through windows" while pushing each other out, some from dangerous heights.

Afghan National Army troops belonging to an elite unit led operations to secure the campus while exchanging gunfire with the assailants. United States led military coalition foreign troops assisted in the operations, including mentors from the Norwegian Special forces group Marinejegerkommandoen [8] to rescue the 200 students trapped inside the school. Associated Press and Agence France-Presse photographer Massoud Hossaini was stuck and wounded inside the university and tweeted updates, along with other reporters such as CBS producer Ahmad Mukhtar.[1][9]

During the chaos, eight university students, three policemen, three security guards at the university, and two university professors were killed. A guard from a neighboring vocational school for visually impaired people was also said to be killed. Most people were killed from bullets that travelled through windows. At least 50 to at least 53 people were also injured.[3]

Aftermath

The Taliban was suspected to be behind the attack but has not yet claimed responsibility. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is also a suspect.[10]

Laura Bush, a major supporter of the university, denounced the attack along with the U.S. State Department and offered her condolences. She also issued a statement.[11]

The American University of Afghanistan temporarily closed indefinitely "in the wake of the despicable terrorist attack on the university". University President Mark English was interviewed on the American National Public Radio. The university also issued a statement:

“American University of Afghanistan is dedicated to its educational mission in service to Afghanistan and has no intention of giving in to terror. As our faculty member Naqib Ahmad Khpulwak, who was killed in this attack, had said, those who care about the future of Afghanistan cannot back down to insurgents and criminals who threaten a future of possibility. Our firm resolve is to move forward,”

— American University of Afghanistan, University World News[12]

See also

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