CBS News producer Ahmad Mukhtar on escaping Taliban siege on American University of Afghanistan in Kabul

Ahmad Mukhtar is CBS Information’ producer within the Afghan capital. After years masking the violence that has hounded his nation following the U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban, he narrowly prevented changing into a sufferer of it himself.

KABUL — Per week in the past, I used to be on the American College of Afghanistan, in Kabul, speaking to my buddy and classmate Hassibullah Roshan about switching lessons. We have been heading collectively to see a professor within the school constructing.

As we walked, we heard gunfire very near us. We ducked our heads and began shifting quicker. Seconds later got here a strong explosion which lit up the entire campus. We rushed into the Azizi constructing.

I’ve lined too many terrorist assaults in Kabul. Usually, when there is a suicide assault or militants launch a siege, we rush to the scene, attempt to get as shut as potential, and report what we will see and listen to. However final Wednesday was the primary terrorist assault to hit the American College — just about my second house — and this time I used to be working for my life.

Hassib and I rushed right into a hall of the Aziz constructing and joined different college students. A feminine pupil was crying. I attempted to calm her down, reassuring her that the whole lot can be okay.

Everybody was making an attempt to get out of the only door on the northern finish of the hall. I adopted Hassib and we made it out of the constructing, ending up in entrance the cafeterias. Hassib stopped for a second or two. We have been confused. What ought to we do? The place ought to we go?

We adopted different college students and reached a small outside staircase main as much as one of many safety watchtowers on campus. There have been about 100 of us, and everybody was making an attempt to be first to climb the tower. That is the place I misplaced Hassib. Lastly, it was my flip to climb the steps.

I received as much as the watchtower and noticed the guard nonetheless sitting inside, clutching his weapon, with a bunch of scholars round him. They have been all speaking very quietly. One of many different college students mentioned there was a approach out behind the safety tower.

My Uncle Zeewari referred to as my mobile phone. I answered and informed him our college was underneath assault and that I used to be making an attempt to flee, then hung up. He later informed me he had heard an explosion and was calling to examine on me. We all the time examine on one another when there may be an assault within the metropolis.

We rushed to the again of the tower and once more everybody jostled for place, keen to leap. When it was my flip I stepped to the sting and regarded right down to the bottom beneath. It was very scary. I dropped my backpack first, then adopted, making an attempt to land as softly as potential.

Again on the bottom, I did not know which strategy to go. I joined a bunch of scholars who had escaped from one of many college’s emergency exits. We began working collectively.

We saved working for our lives. I may hear bullets flying above us and I used to be fearful one in all them would hit me or one in all my pals. It appeared just like the attackers have been following us.

As we ran I grabbed my telephone and first referred to as my father. I used to be respiratory very quick as I informed him our college was underneath assault, however that I used to be out, so don’t fret. I knew my pals would hear the information on native TV and can be fearful.

The second telephone name I made was to the CBS Information London bureau. Once more, I mentioned the college was underneath assault however that I used to be out protected.

We reached a residential space subsequent to the campus and I noticed folks popping out of their properties. They provided to take us in till the assault was over. Some stayed, however I continued towards the primary street with others.

I could not discover Hassib. I attempted to name him however could not discover his quantity. Then he referred to as me, saying he’d injured his hand leaping from the tower within the perimeter wall and had taken shelter in a home.

I reached the primary street, stopped a taxi, and requested the driving force to take me to my uncle’s home the place my mother and father have been ready for me.

That first night time I used to be too busy reporting on the story for all of it to sink in. I did not sleep.

The second night time, my uncles and cousins got here to our home and we sat up till morning, sleeping for only some hours. Nightmares began the third night time, after I was alone once more.

I heard a gunshot exterior, which may be very regular in Kabul, however this time it frightened me. I informed myself the attackers have been coming to my home to kill me.

I attempted to return to mattress, however paranoia had set in. Every thing regarded unusual and horrifying.

I went downstairs to the ground my mother and father and brother have been on and requested him to present me his spot, so I would not really feel alone. I could not cease considering the militants have been following me, and may seem any second to kill me.

Once I closed my eyes, I noticed the intense yellow mild of the explosion that lit up the campus. I heard the blast, and my classmates’ screams. The faces of the college guards, who would usually open the gate and let me in after I forgot my ID card, flashed in my thoughts.

The American College of Afghanistan has a number of armed guards posted contained in the campus and within the perimeter watchtowers. As a pupil, I by no means thought terrorists would handle to breach that perimeter.

I imagine the assault was well-planned, however in the long run, the college administration could not defend the scholars and employees. The college president has a fortified “protected room” in his workplace, however college students and professors don’t have any such possibility.

Two of my pals, Jamshid Zafar and Zubair, have been among the many 9 college students who died that day. One professor, three law enforcement officials and two safety guards have been additionally killed.

My final class with Zubir was the day earlier than the assault.

I used to tease Jamshid, telling him he would ignore me when women have been round.

“It isn’t true, brother,” he would reply.

Among the brightest, most proficient folks in Afghanistan examine on the American College — a few of them prone to be the long run leaders of this nation. However it’s additionally an American college, underneath the American schooling system. The assault was a serious blow to the identification of each Afghans and People right here, and it is going to be felt for a very long time.

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