16 Killed in Attack on Kabul American University

16 Killed in Attack on Kabul American University16 Killed in Attack on Kabul American University

Sixteen people were killed after militants stormed the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul, officials said on Thursday, in a nearly 10-hour raid that prompted anguished pleas for help from trapped students.

Explosions and gunfire rocked the campus after the attack began Wednesday evening, just weeks after two university professors—an American and an Australian—were kidnapped at gunpoint near the school, AFP reported.

No group has so far claimed the assault, but it occurred as the Taliban ramp up their nationwide summer offensive against the western-backed government.

The presidential office said the attack was “orchestrated” from Pakistan, Afghanistan’s longtime regional nemesis often accused of harboring the Taliban.

“Sixteen people, including eight students, were killed and 53 others were wounded,” health ministry spokesman, Waheed Majroh, told AFP. “Some of the wounded are in critical condition.”

The interior ministry said the fatalities included policemen, a university guard and a guard from the neighboring vocational school for the visually impaired.

Hundreds of trapped students were rescued during the overnight operation, many of whom tweeted desperate messages for help. Some used classroom furniture to barricade the doors while others made a mad scramble to escape through windows from high floors. The attack began with a suicide car bombing at a university gate, which paved the way for two attackers to storm the compound at dusk, when the elite private university is usually packed with students.

Authorities refused to confirm whether any hostages had been taken.