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RFE/RL: Survivors of attack at American University of Afghanistan recall terror
11:08, 26 August 2016
RFE/RL: Survivors of attack at American University of Afghanistan recall terror

RFE/RL gathers stories of four survivors, barricading themselves behind classroom doors, clinging to the floor as shots rang out just meters away

11:08, 26 August 2016

 AFP 

At least seven students, one teacher, and five others were killed in a terror attack on the American University of Afghanistan outside Kabul on August 24.

The rampage began when a car bomb detonated at a fortified gate to the campus around twilight, sending hundreds of students fleeing in terror. Elite Afghan security forces scrambled to pin down and eventually kill the two gunmen believed responsible, finally giving the all-clear signal in the early hours of August 25. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also injured dozens of students.

Related: Militant attack on American University in Kabul

Here are the accounts of four survivors, who describe students and faculty barricading themselves behind classroom doors, clinging to the floor as shots rang out just meters away, and suffering injuries as they and others scrambled to reach safety outside the walls of the besieged university.

I Thought, 'This Is The End'

Nineteen-year-old Roman Dehsabzi was inside a second-floor classroom when the 10-hour assault began. He recalled to RFE/RL hearing a loud explosion that shattered windows. Gunfire followed.

Dehsabzi and about 25 other students barricaded themselves in their classroom, wedging chairs against the door in an effort to prevent any gunmen from entering.

"One of them hit the door really hard, but he didn't manage to open it," Dehsabzi recalled. "After that [attempt], they exploded a grenade outside the door to enter [the classroom]. They blew up the door and we were forced to jump from the second floor to escape."

He said he saw some of his friends injure themselves while clambering to escape. 

All the while, he said, the gunmen kept firing at them. 

Dehsabzwal said he thought he was going to die. 
 
"I thought, 'This is the end.' I didn't think I would leave the university alive and unharmed. But I managed to escape."

"While jumping, I remember seeing a friend next to me. Later, I noticed blood on the back of my T-shirt. I'm not sure whether he was injured or what happened to him."

Another friend was among those killed.
 
"One of my close friends, who was with me in the classroom, was unfortunately martyred (killed)" in the attack, he said. 
 
He last saw the friend when they jumped from the second floor. Then chaos followed and students dispersed. "I didn't know which way he went," he said.
 
Despite the horror, Dehsabzi said he is determined to stay at the school.

"The American University of Afghanistan is one of the country's best universities. That's why the enemies of Afghanistan want to destroy it. But we won't give up our studies, even if there's another attack. We will continue our studies," he told RFE/RL. "I'm not afraid."

Nineteen-year-old Roman Dehsabzi was inside a second-floor classroom when the 10-hour assault began. He recalled to RFE/RL hearing a loud explosion that shattered windows. Gunfire followed.

Dehsabzi and about 25 other students barricaded themselves in their classroom, wedging chairs against the door in an effort to prevent any gunmen from entering.

"One of them hit the door really hard, but he didn't manage to open it," Dehsabzi recalled. "After that [attempt], they exploded a grenade outside the door to enter [the classroom]. They blew up the door and we were forced to jump from the second floor to escape."

Related: A car exploded near the US embassy in Kabul

He said he saw some of his friends injure themselves while clambering to escape. 

All the while, he said, the gunmen kept firing at them. 

Dehsabzwal said he thought he was going to die. 
 
"I thought, 'This is the end.' I didn't think I would leave the university alive and unharmed. But I managed to escape."

"While jumping, I remember seeing a friend next to me. Later, I noticed blood on the back of my T-shirt. I'm not sure whether he was injured or what happened to him."

Another friend was among those killed.
 
"One of my close friends, who was with me in the classroom, was unfortunately martyred (killed)" in the attack, he said. 
 
He last saw the friend when they jumped from the second floor. Then chaos followed and students dispersed. "I didn't know which way he went," he said.
 
Despite the horror, Dehsabzi said he is determined to stay at the school.

"The American University of Afghanistan is one of the country's best universities. That's why the enemies of Afghanistan want to destroy it. But we won't give up our studies, even if there's another attack. We will continue our studies," he told RFE/RL. "I'm not afraid."

'He Started Shooting'

Other survivors had their own accounts of the horrific incident but of similar determination to continue their studies.
 
One of them is Mohammad Daud, who was in a classroom on the third floor of the university when the militants struck.
 
He heard an explosion and then gunfire, which he said he could hear getting closer.
 
"Finally, [the gunmen] approached our classroom," he said. "First, an attacker entered my classroom. There were a lot of students in the classroom. I saw the attacker. I lowered myself to the ground. He started shooting."
 
After a few minutes, he said, he thought the worst was over.

Related: Terrorist attack in Kabul: death toll rose to 80

 
But a classmate indicated to him that the gunmen were simply firing at students on the other side of the classroom.

"At this point, I thought if he turns toward us, he will kill us, too, Daud told RFE/RL. "The only way [to survive] was to escape. I jumped from the third floor of the building and broke my arm."

He said security guards helped him climb the perimeter wall of the campus and escape.

Read the full article here.

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