KABUL: A suicide attack at a learning center in the Afghan capital on Friday killed scores of teenaged students, most of them girls, police and witnesses say.
The blast at the Kaaj education center in the Dasht-e-Barchi area in the west of Kabul took place in the morning, when students were taking a practice college exam.
“Initial information shows that sadly 19 people lost their lives and 27 others are injured,” Kabul police spokesperson Khalid Zadran told reporters.
One of the exam’s organizers told Arab News a suicide bomber entered the exam venue, where about 500 children were sitting.
“Our male and female students were killed on the spot, and some were taken to the nearby hospitals,” he said, requesting anonymity. “The attacker entered from the girls’ entrance and the blast happened in front of the girls’ section of the hall. Most of the martyrs are our girl students.”
The death toll is likely to be higher than the official figure, but local residents say the area has been cordoned off and they had not been able to see the victims.
“Taliban locked the area and don’t even allow us to hospitals to see the victims and give blood,” Mohammad Ali, a resident of Dasht-e-Barchi, told Arab News.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack that took place in a neighborhood inhabited by minority Hazaras who have often been targeted by militants.
Abbas Baqir, an elder from Dasht-e-Barchi said consecutive Afghan governments have failed to protect them.
“The governments failed to protect us. We are a target for militant groups because of our identity,” he told Arab News. “Today, our children lost their lives again while getting an education and preparing for their future.”
The security situation in Afghanistan had improved following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, but it has been deteriorating in recent months.
In a Twitter post, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid condemned Friday’s attack as an “act of terror.”
“The IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this attack. Serious measures will be taken to find and punish the perpetrators.”
Most of the attacks on schools and mosques have been claimed by Daesh militants who are a rival of the Taliban.
Last year, a bomb attack on a girls' school in Dasht-e-Barchi killed at least 85 people, mainly students.