Univer­sity at­tack tears dreama­part

Many of the wounded peo­ple are still get­ting coun­sel­ing to help them deal with the trauma

China Daily (USA) - - WORLD - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Kabul, Afghanistan

Breshna Mosazai re­mem­bers the day of the deadly at­tack two months ago on the Amer­i­canUniver­sity in Kabul. She re­mem­bers ly­ing still on the cor­ri­dor floor and play­ing dead, push­ing the agony of the gun­shot wounds out of her mind as heav­ily armed gun­men stalked around the cam­pus, look­ing for peo­ple to kill.

That day changed her life for­ever and forced the 26-year-old Afghan law stu­dent to put her dreams of a fu­ture and a ca­reer on hold.

The Aug 24 ram­page went on for what seemed like an eter­nity as the at­tack­ers shot at stu­dents with au­to­matic ri­fles and fired rocket-pro­pelled grenades into class­rooms. By the time it was over, 13 peo­ple were killed and more than 40 were wounded. No group has since claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, fu­el­ing spec­u­la­tion that Afghanistan’s emerg­ing Is­lamic State af­fil­i­ate was be­hind it.

Mosazai was res­cued six hours into the 10-hour siege at the sprawl­ing cam­pus in Kabul’s west­ern out­skirts. With three bul­lets in her left leg and foot, she was lucky — the dead in­cluded seven stu­dents, one teacher, three po­lice of­fi­cers and two se­cu­rity guards, ac­cord­ing to the In­te­ri­orMin­istry, as well as all of the at­tack­ers.

Nowath­omein a wheel­chair, Mosazai leans for­ward over the mas­sive pin hold­ing her shat­tered left leg to­gether, and points to her ban­daged foot.

“The top of this one is gone,” she says of the foot, which is miss­ing the big toe and most of the next two toes. There’s a pin in there as well, hold­ing the foot to­gether. Though her doc­tor says she must walk to strengthen the leg as it heals, shecan’t— her right leg is with­ered from po­lio con­tracted as a childand­can’t hold her weight.

The univer­sity — es­tab­lished in 2006 to of­fer lib­eral arts courses mod­eled on the US sys­tem — has been a bea­con of all that Afghanistan wanted to be af­ter the Tal­iban were over­thrown in 2001: a na­tion that of­fered its cit­i­zens free­dom, hope and progress.

But the at­tack tore that dream apart. Mosazai says many of her class­mates now want to leave the coun­try and that she, too, has lost hope.

“Whenmy broth­ers and sis­ter go out, I am scared and pray they come back home safe,” she says. “This time I could walk ... but if this hap­pens again, next time I won’t be able to even move.”

The August at­tack left unan­swered many ques­tions as to why se­cu­rity failed so dis­mally and why mil­i­tants are still able to stage large-scale at­tacks, in­clud­ing in theAfghan­cap­i­tal.

The as­sault be­gan around 7 pm when a car packed with ex­plo­sives rammed a low wall on the cam­pus’ north­west­ern flank, blow­ing it up to make room­forgun­mento storm in as night classes were get­ting un­der­way and day­time stu­dentswere­leav­ing. The­cam­pus was crowded, tar­gets were abun­dant.

Many of the wounded are still get­ting coun­sel­ing to help themdeal with the trauma. The univer­sity pres­i­dent, Mark English, re­signed soon af­ter the at­tack. Classes are not ex­pected to re­sume be­fore Jan­uary and the stu­dents are still not al­lowed back on the cam­pus.


Breshna Mosazai re­ceived an in­view with the As­so­ci­ated Press at her home in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Oct 7.

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