A suicide attack on an education center in Kabul has killed at least 23 people, most of them believed to be young women, in the latest sign of a deteriorating security situation in the Afghan capital.
The explosion occurred Friday at the Khaji Education Center in a district dominated by the Hazaras, an ethnic minority group that has long faced repression.
Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told CNN that students were taking a mock college entrance exam at 7:30 a.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) when the explosion first occurred.
Abdu Gayas Momand, a doctor at Ali Zina Hospital, where some of the victims were taken, said 23 people were killed and another 36 were injured.
There were no claims of responsibility for the attack.
Eyewitness Tayba Metalkir told CNN that many of the casualties were young women. She went to the center to look for her friends after hearing news of the attack and was faced with scenes of confusion and despair.
“I saw parents, other members of the families of the students at Carge, running around screaming,” she said. “Some were looking for urgent medical attention for their loved ones, others were looking for their sons and daughters. saw.”
Mehtarkhil’s friend survived the attack because she was late and had not arrived at the classroom when the explosion occurred, she said.
Another witness, a 20-year-old who requested anonymity for security reasons, told CNN that she was about 20 paces from the gate when the explosion knocked her to the ground.
“When I went inside, many of my classmates were covered in blood.
“I was in a state of shock. I was yelling and looking for my friends’ names. was,” she said.
Her classroom is the center’s largest, she said, and typically has about 500 male and female students.
“It’s terrifying. I’m still in shock. It’s like a nightmare. It killed many of my dear friends and classmates. I hope the world doesn’t treat this as another news. I want the world to know the pain I am going through right now.I am completely devastated,” she said.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid condemned the attack in a tweet on Friday.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the attack on the Khai training center in District 13 of Kabul, calling it a major crime, and expresses its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims of this incident.
“Serious steps will be taken to find and punish perpetrators,” he added.
UNICEF said it was “appalled by the horrific attacks”. Tweet Friday.
“This heinous act claimed the lives of dozens of adolescent girls and boys and left many more seriously injured.” Violence in or around educational institutions will never be tolerated. A safe place should be a safe haven where children can learn, be with friends and feel safe while building skills for the future.”
The United States tweeted that it “strongly condemns the attack.”
“It is a disgrace to target a room full of students taking exams. All students should be able to get their education in peace and without fear. I have written.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif condemned the attack, tweeting: Words cannot describe the sheer savagery of this. My heartfelt condolences and heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and the people of Afghanistan. ”
The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, also condemned the bombing.
“I condemn the horrific attack on Carge Academy students today,” Bennett tweeted, using the hashtag #studentsnotargets. “The onslaught on Hazara and Shia education must end. Stop attacking Afghanistan’s future, stop international crime.
Bennett said the center was filled with students “full of hope for a bright future.”
“Afghanistan’s future depends on stopping transnational crime, holding perpetrators accountable and educating young people,” he added.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, there have been multiple attacks against the Hazara community.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Islamic State in Khorasan province has claimed responsibility for 13 attacks against Hazaras and was responsible for three more attacks that killed or injured at least 700 people.
“Taliban authorities have done little to protect these communities from suicide bombings and other illegal attacks, or to provide much-needed medical and other assistance to victims and their families,” it said. The report added
A series of attacks in Kabul have claimed dozens of lives in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, a suicide bombing near the Russian embassy killed six people, including two Russian embassy staff, and an explosion at a mosque during evening prayers in August. 21 people were killed and another 33 were injured.
This is breaking news. More coming.