A suicide bomber attacked an educational institute in the Afghan capital, killing at least 19 people.
As many as 27 other people were injured in the early Friday blast, which occurred in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of western Kabul, a predominantly Shiite-Muslim area that is home to the minority Hazara community, according to police spokesman Khalid Zadran.
“Students were preparing for an exam when a suicide bomber attacked this school. Unfortunately, 19 people have been martyred and another 27 injured,” he said.
Videos posted online and photos posted by local media showed bloodied victims being taken away from the scene.
“Attacking civilian targets demonstrates the inhumane cruelty of the enemy and the lack of moral standards,” he said, without specifying who was believed to be behind the attack.
No group immediately claimed responsibility.
Families rushed to hospitals in the area where ambulances with casualties arrived and lists of confirmed dead and injured were posted on the walls.
“We didn’t find her here,” said a distraught woman looking for her sister at one of the hospitals. “I was 19 years old.”
Resident Ghulam Sadiq said he was at home when he heard a loud sound. He came out to see smoke coming out of the school where he and his neighbors rushed to help.
“My friends and I were able to move around 15 wounded and nine bodies from the blast site… Other bodies lay under chairs and tables inside the classroom,” he said.
No further details on the attack were immediately available, although the official death toll was expected to rise.
The Hazara ethnic group has alleged years of persecution by the ruling Taliban, who returned to power in the country following the withdrawal of US-led forces in August 2021, and have been the victims of several attacks claimed by the rival group ISIL (ISIS).
The Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood has witnessed some of the worst attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.
In 2021, before the Taliban takeover, at least 85 people, mostly students, were killed and another 300 injured when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.
No group claimed responsibility for that attack, but a year earlier, ISIL claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on an educational center in the same area that killed 24 people, including students.
In April this year, two deadly bomb blasts at separate schools in the area killed six people and injured 20 others.
Since taking control, the Taliban government has emphasized that they are securing the nation after decades of war, but a series of attacks on mosques and civilian areas in recent months have challenged that narrative.
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