The American University of Afghanistan is under attack


Gunmen stormed the campus of the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday, firing shots and taking students and professors hostage, an unnamed Afghan interior ministry official told Reuters.

"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."

Ahmad Mukhtar, a journalist for CBS News based in Afghanistan, tweeted that while he had escaped the university, several students and professors were still trapped inside.

Mukhtar's chilling claim was echoed by unconfirmed witness accounts coming from the scene via Twitter.

The Associated Press reported that one of its photographers, Massoud Hossaini, was inside the university with 15 other students when he heard an explosion rock 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 saw someone lying face down on the ground as he attempted to flee the campus.

This is the second time this month that students and staff at the university have had their lives threatened. 

On August 8, two lecturers, one Australian and one American, were kidnapped from the campus at gunpoint. Campus operations were temporarily suspended as authorities hunted for the two lecturers, who remain missing.

"We are devastated by the news and will remain vigilant to ensure the safety and security of all university personnel and students," university president Mark English said in a statement.

In the wake of the kidnappings, Mohammed Amir, a 22-year-old senior, told the Washington Post that concerns about security were ubiquitous on campus.

"We are all worried about security. I stay in my dorm during holidays because I am afraid the Taliban will kidnap me on the highway if I go home to my village," he said. 

This story is breaking and will be updated.