Kabul blast: suicide bomber kills 19, mostly women, at education centre

Taliban force relatives of victims to move away from one hospital for fear of a follow-up attack on the crowd outside

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At least 19 people were killed in a suicide attack at an education centre in Kabul where hundreds of students were preparing for university entrance exams on Friday morning.

The attack happened at the Kaj Education Centre in Dasht-e-Barchi, a mainly Hazara area in the west of the Afghan capital.

“Two suicide attackers entered the centre and killed two male and a female guard at the main gate. One of them blew himself up at the girls' section,” Mohammad Taqi, a teacher who survived the attack, told The National.

“Most of those killed are our girl students, while many male students are injured. In addition, at least one teacher is wounded.”

Kabul police said 19 people were killed and 27 others injured, but Mr Taqi and other witnesses said the number of casualties could be much higher.

Mr Taqi said there were about 500 students at the centre when the attackers struck.

“Casualties are high but we don't know the exact number,” he said.

Hospitals in the area said they were instructed by the Taliban authorities not to share information.

Taliban chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “Necessary measures will be taken to find and punish the perpetrators of this attack”.

Security teams were sent to the scene to investigate, said Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor.

Social media footage showed bloodied victims being carried away from the scene.

Ghulm Sadiq, a resident of the area, said he was at home when he heard a loud noise and went outside to see smoke rising from the centre.

“My friends and I were able to move around 15 wounded and nine dead bodies from the explosion site,” Mr Sadiq told Reuters.

“Other bodies were lying under chairs and tables inside the classroom.”

A hospital source said 23 people had been killed, while a Taliban source said 33 people had died.

Relatives of the pupils rushed to hospitals in the area, where ambulances were arriving with victims, and lists of the dead and wounded were posted on the walls.

“We didn't find her here,” a woman looking for her sister told AFP at one of the hospitals.

“She was 19 years old.

“We are calling her but she's not responding.”

The Taliban forced relatives to move away from one hospital for fear of a follow-up attack on the crowd outside.

Unicef Afghanistan said it was appalled by the attack, which was also condemned by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the US, German and Iranian embassies.

“Violence in or around education establishments is never acceptable,” Unicef said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest in a steady stream of violence since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan just over a year ago.

ISIS, a rival of the Taliban, has attacked mosques and worshippers, especially members of Afghanistan’s Shiite community.

Dasht-e-Barchi has been the scene of numerous attacks in recent years.

Six people were killed at a high school in the area in April. In May last year, 85 died in a bombing at a girls' school in the area.

In May 2020, gunmen killed 24 women and children at a Medecins Sans Frontieres maternity ward in Dasht-e-Barchi.

Afghanistan’s Hazara minority are often prime targets of terror attacks and face persecution from both ISIS and the Taliban.

“We are continuously targeted at our mosques and our education centres but no one cares much about us,” Ali Reza, a resident of Dasht-e-Barchi, told The National.

Updated: October 01, 2022, 5:07 AM