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Explosions, gunfire reported near American University in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A powerful explosion was heard near the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday evening, followed by sounds of heavy gunfire, sending panicked students at evening classes scrambling for safety on the highly ...

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An Afghan policeman keeps watch at the site of an attack in Kabul. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A powerful explosion was heard near the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul on Wednesday evening, followed by sounds of heavy gunfire, sending panicked students at evening classes scrambling for safety on the highly guarded campus in the Afghan capital.

As reports of the explosion circulated immediately on social media, students tweeted that they were hearing gunfire very close and feared that attackers had entered the campus. There were conflicting reports on whether gunmen had breached the compound, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

At 7:23 p.m. local time, Massoud Hossaini, a 2012 Pulitzer-winning photojournalist who was inside the campus, tweeted, "Help we are stuck inside AUAF and shooting followed by explo this may be my last tweets." AUAF is the acronym for the university. The tweet by Hossani, who works for the Associated Press, has since been deleted. All AP staff are safe, the new agency's Kabul bureau chief tweeted.

The double assault came less than two weeks after two foreign professors at the elite American-run university were kidnapped from their vehicle outside the campus. The victims, one American and one Australian, have not been heard from since, and there has been no news about demands for ransom or other contact with the abductors.

By 8 p.m., police and others said the gunmen had not penetrated the campus and that security forces had converged on the campus, located in an isolated section of the capital near the parliament.

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"I am hearing that the shooters didn't get in yet. They are at an eye hospital near the university and most students are in a safe room and most managed to escape," an Afghan academic and rights activist, Timor Sharan, reported by phone at 8 p.m. "Ambulances are on the way, and Afghan special forces are there. Things seem to be getting under control."

 

 

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