Blast, gunshots heard at American University in Kabul

Posted at 12:46 PM, Aug 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-24 13:42:06-04

At least five people were taken to Emergency Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, after an attack Wednesday night on the American University campus there, the hospital said in a tweet.

Eyewitnesses said they heard gunshots and a blast, while Tarek Mahjari, a reporter for TOLOnews, told his employer in a phone interview that fires are burning on the campus.

Ambulances, security forces and search and rescue teams were en route to the university. A crisis response unit entered the university, where officials said dozens of students and staff were trapped.

Gunfire erupted again shortly after the unit entered campus, the Afghan news channel reported.

A police operation is set to begin to search for any attackers on the property, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui.

The blast occurred at 7:50 p.m. local time when students were gathering and eating together.

Officials told CNN that it is too early for them to comment.

The report comes fewer than three weeks after the school was forced to suspend campus operations after two teachers — an American and Australian — were kidnapped at gunpoint. Their whereabouts remain unknown.

A rash of kidnappings and Taliban bombings have heightened security fears in Kabul. US and other diplomats have been barred from traveling by road the short distance from the city’s international airport to their diplomatic missions. Instead, they’ve been ferried by helicopter.

Many countries, including the United States and United Kingdom, have longstanding travel advisories against all but essential travel to Afghanistan due to the security situation.