Death toll from Kabul school bombing has risen to at least 35, UN says

Hazara women protest in Kabul against repeated attacks on their community

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At least 35 people were killed in a suicide attack on a tutorial centre in western Kabul on Friday, the UN mission in Afghanistan said.

A suicide bomber blew himself up in a study hall in the Afghan capital as hundreds of pupils were taking tests in preparation for university entrance exams.

The predominantly Shiite district of Dasht-e-Barchi district is home to the minority Hazara community who have been targeted in some of Afghanistan's most brutal attacks in recent years.

Kabul police said 20 people were killed in the bombing at the Kaj Education Centre, but the UN mission put the toll far higher on Saturday.

"The latest casualty figures from the attack number at least 35 fatalities, with an additional 82 wounded," it said.

The updated death toll came dozens of Hazara women protested in Kabul against the repeated attacks on their community.

"Stop Hazara genocide, it's not a crime to be a Shiite," the chanted as they marched past a hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi where several victims of the attack were being treated.

Dressed in black hijabs and headscarves, the protesters carried banners that read: "Stop killing Hazaras".

They later gathered in front of the hospital and chanted slogans as dozens of heavily armed Taliban fighters kept watch.

Women's protests have become risky since the hardline group returned to power last August, with numerous demonstrators detained and rallies broken up by Taliban forces firing shots in the air.

No group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack. But the extremist group ISIS regards Shiites as heretics and has previously claimed attacks in Dasht-e-Barchi against girls' education centres and mosques.

In May last year at least 85 people — mainly girls — were killed and about 300 were wounded when three bombs exploded near a school in Dasht-e-Barchi.

No group claimed responsibility, but a year earlier ISIS claimed a suicide attack on an educational centre in the same area that killed 24.

The Taliban, who consider ISIS rivals, have also been accused of attacking the Hazara community during their 20-year insurgency against the former US-backed government.

ISIS has continued to carry out attacks despite the Taliban's pledge to protect minorities and improve security after seizing power.

— With reporting from AFP.

Updated: October 01, 2022, 11:32 AM
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