AFGHANISTAN AMERICAN UNIVERSITY ATTACK.jpg
A general view shows the American University of Afghanistan after an overnight attack by Taliban in Kabul, Afghanistan, 25 August 2016.
Photograph: EPA/HEDAYATULLAH AMID

At least 16 people were killed in an attack on the American University of Afghanistan [AUAF] in Kabul that started late Wednesday when a suicide bomber plowed his explosive packed vehicle into the wall of the university, officials said on Thursday.

"Seven students, three policemen, two university guards, one guard for the adjacent building - which the attackers used to penetrate the university - and three attackers were killed," Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said.

Mujahid said 39 others including nine police officers were wounded in the incident. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. 

The university went into panic as students and staff asked for help from the Afghan security forces. Some were able to escape shortly after the attack started. 

Security forces were forced to move slowly in ending the attack because 700 students were on campus when it began, Mujahid said.  

Ahmad Samim, an associate professor at the university, said he begged for his life. "Don't kill me I am very innocent," he said on Twitter. The professor later said he was safe and away from the university. 

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said there were "small numbers" of NATO advisers who were assisting their Afghan counterparts. The advisers are not taking a combat role but are advising Afghan counterparts, she said.

The United States condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms," she said. "An attack on a university is an attack on the future of Afghanistan."

Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah condemned what he termed a cowardly attack on the university. "Attacking schools, universities & innocent people is a war crime. We can not bear it!" he wrote on Twitter.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack while offering "Condolences to the bereaved families & prayers with the injured."

Earlier this month one US and one Australian professor working at the American University were kidnapped by gunmen.   

The American University of Afghanistan has around 1,000 students studying various subjects at the bachelor and master's level. 

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