A suicide bomb attack on an education center in Kabul has killed at least 23 people, most believed to be young women, in the latest sign of the deteriorating security situation in the Afghan capital.
The blast took place Friday at the Kaaj Education Center in a predominantly Hazara neighborhood – an ethnic minority group that has long faced oppression.
Students were taking a university entrance exam at 7:30 a.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) when the blast first occurred, the Kabul police spokesman told CNN. , Khalid Zadran.
Abdu Ghayas Momand, a doctor at Ali Jinah Hospital, where some of the victims were taken, said 23 people were killed and 36 others injured.
Responsibility for the attack has not been claimed.
Taiba Mehtarkhil, an eyewitness, told CNN many of the victims were young women. She had gone to the center to pick up her friend after hearing the news of the attack and was faced with scenes of chaos and despair, she said.
“I saw parents, other family members of Kaaj students, screaming and running up and down,” she said. “Some were trying to get emergency medical care for loved ones and others were looking for their sons and daughters. I saw around 20 dead and many more injured with my own eyes.
Mehtarkhil’s friend survived the attack because she was late and hadn’t reached the classroom when the explosion happened, she said.
Another eyewitness, a 20-year-old who did not want to be named for security reasons, told CNN she was about 20 paces from the door when the blast knocked her to the ground.
“When I walked in, I saw a lot of my classmates in blood. I found out the explosion happened inside my class,” she said, through the tears.
“I was in shock. I was just screaming my friends names and looking for them. I found some alive, but not my closest friend who was 19 and the smartest girl in our class. “, she said.
Her classroom is the largest in the center and normally accommodates around 500 students, both male and female, she said.
“It’s horrible, I’m still in shock, it’s like a nightmare. He killed a lot of my dearest friends and classmates. I want the world not to treat this as just another piece of news. I want the world to know the pain we are going through right now. I am totally devastated,” she said.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid condemned the attack in a tweet on Friday.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls the attack on Kaj training center in Kabul’s 13th district a great crime, strongly condemns it and expresses its deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this incident.”
“Serious measures will be taken to find and punish the perpetrators,” he added.
UNICEF said it was “appalled by the horrific attack” Tweeter Friday.
“This heinous act claimed the lives of dozens of teenagers and seriously injured many more,” he said. “Violence in or around educational institutions is never acceptable. These places should be safe havens where children can learn, be with friends, and feel safe while learning skills for their future.
The United States said it “strongly condemns the attack” in a statement on Twitter.
“Targeting a room full of students taking exams is shameful; all students should be able to pursue an education in peace and without fear,” said the charge d’affaires of the US mission in Afghanistan. wrote.
Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, there have been multiple attacks against the Hazara community.
Islamic State in Khorasan province has claimed responsibility for 13 attacks on Hazaras and has been linked to three others that have killed and injured at least 700 people, according to Human Rights Watch.
“Taliban authorities have done little to protect these communities from suicide bombings and other unlawful attacks or to provide necessary medical care and other assistance to the victims and their families,” the report added.
A series of attacks in Kabul has killed dozens in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, two Russian embassy workers were among six people killed in a suicide bombing near the Russian embassy, and in August an explosion at a mosque during evening prayers killed 21 people and injured 33 others.
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