US Embassy in Kabul condemns attack on American University Afghanistan: 'The targeting of Afghan students and university staff who are working to improve the future of Afghanistan is a cruel and cowardly act.'
Editor's note: The American University of Afghanistan, under siege from militants, opened for enrollment in 2006 to both men and women. The New York Times said the university, in Kabul, quickly became a prestigious education choice for the country's elite, offering degrees taught in English. - Tom
More: Afghanistan chief executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah says 'special units of the Afghan Forces are taking all measures needed to rescue innocent lives and clear the area out of enemies' - @afgexecutive
Kabul (/ˈkɑːbᵿl/; Urdu: کابل, Persian: کابل, pronounced [ˈkʰɒːbul]) is the capital of Afghanistan as well as its largest city, located in the eastern section of the country. According to a 2015 estimate, the population of the city was around 3,678,034 which includes all the major ethnic groups. Rapid urbanization had made Kabul the world's 64th largest city and the fifth fastest-growing city in the world.
Kabul is over 3,500 years old and many empires have controlled the city which is at a strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia. It has been ruled by the Achaemenids, Seleucids, Mauryans, Kushans, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, and Ghurids. Later it was controlled by the Mughal Empire until finally becoming part of the Durrani Empire with help from the Afsharid dynasty.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan the city continued to be an economic center and was relatively safe. Between 1992 and 1996, a civil war between militant groups devastated Kabul and caused the deaths of thousands of civilians, serious damage to infrastructure, and an exodus of refugees. Since the Taliban's fall from power in November 2001, the Afghan government and other countries have attempted to rebuild the city, although the Taliban insurgents have slowed the re-construction efforts and staged major attacks against the government, the NATO-led forces, foreign diplomats and Afghan civilians.