A 10-hour militant assault on the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) in the capital, Kabul, ended with the killing of at least 12 people. Scores more were injured.
Officials said they killed at least two gunmen involved in the attack, which began late on August 24 and ended early on August 25. At least seven students, three police officers, and two security guards were killed in the attack, which targeted Afghanistan’s premiere university.
AUAF is a private, not-for-profit institution of higher education that was chartered in 2004. It operates under the auspices of the Association of American International Colleges and Universities, founded by a group of college and university presidents with a desire to share information, encourage collaboration, and share resources among schools with many issues in common.
The group boasts 26 member and associate member educational institutions across the world.
Sharif Fayez, Afghanistan’s higher education minister in 2002, proposed the creation of Afghanistan's first-ever private university. The following year, in an address before UNESCO, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush announced her support for educational initiatives in Afghanistan. Then-U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, likely inspired from his own experience at the American University of Beirut, encouraged the establishment of the American University of Afghanistan.
In 2006, AUAF admitted its first group of 53 students to its Foundation Studies Program, designed to strengthen students' English-language and study skills. In September that year, the first credit-bearing undergraduate courses were offered, along with the first adult professional-level programs.
In 2008, Laura Bush announced $42 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) over a five-year period. By the end of the year, enrollment in the undergraduate and Foundation Studies programs reached almost 350 students.
Other than the USAID funding, AUAF does not claim any other affiliation with the U.S. government.
The university held its first commencement ceremony on May 26, 2011, awarding undergraduate degrees to 32 graduates. It held its fourth, and largest, graduation in 2014, when 180 undergraduate and graduate students were awarded diplomas.
Reported by the Voice of America.