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Story highlights

There was a firefight on the ground in which seven enemy fighters were killed

The university has become a target of Taliban-linked insurgents in recent weeks

(CNN) —  

A few days after an American and Australian were kidnapped from American University in Kabul last month, US Special Operations Forces from SEAL Team 6 attempted to rescue them but failed to find them at the location they went to, according to three administration officials.

There was a firefight on the ground in which seven enemy fighters were killed, according to the officials.

The US was never certain the professors were at the site, or if they were, when they had been moved. Some electronic media was recovered indicating the identities of those who were holding them.

SEAL Team 6 used a HALO jump, which is a high altitude jump from an aircraft, in the operation. A HALO is generally only attempted when there is no other option.

The American University in Afghanistan opened in 2006. It’s the only private, nonprofit, coed university in that country and has about 1,700 full- and part-time students. The school is regarded as a symbol of cooperation between Afghanistan and the United States.

The university has become a target of Taliban-linked insurgents in recent weeks.

Three weeks after the aforementioned kidnapping, a group of gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed the campus in August and killed 12 people, including students, security guards and police.

A spokesman for the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan told CNN that “a small number” of coalition military advisers had assisted their Afghan counterparts in securing the university.

The US plans to keep 8,400 US troops in Afghanistan after 2017. These forces will continue to conduct counterterrorism missions and help train, advise and assist the Afghan army and police.

President Barack Obama had initially planned to remove all US troops from Afghanistan by the time he left office but changed the policy earlier in the year.