KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck an education center in a Shiite neighborhood of the Afghan capital on Friday, killing 19 people and injuring 27, a spokesman for the Taliban-appointed Kabul police chief said.
The blast inside the center of Kabul’s Dashti Barchi neighborhood – populated mainly by members of Afghanistan’s minority Shia community – occurred in the morning, spokesman Khalid Zadran said.
The victims included high school graduates, girls and boys, who were taking a practical college entrance exam when the blast went off, Zadran said. The center is known as Kaaj Higher Educational Center and helps students prepare and study for college entrance exams, among its activities.
Zadran said education centers in the region will have to ask the Taliban for additional security when they hold events with large gatherings, such as Friday study preparation.
The suicide bombing was the latest in a series of violence since the Taliban took power. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack
The Islamic State group – the Taliban’s main rival since taking over Afghanistan in August 2021 – has in the past targeted the Hazara community, including in Dashti Barchi.
“Our teams rushed to the site of the explosion to find out more,” Taliban-appointed interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said earlier.
US Charge d’Affaires for Afghanistan Karen Decker condemned the attack in a tweet.
“Targeting a room full of students taking exams is shameful; all students should be able to continue their studies in peace and without fear,” she said. “We hope for a speedy recovery for the victims and we mourn with the families of the deceased.”
Afghanistan’s Hazaras, who are mostly Shia Muslims, have been the target of a brutal campaign of violence for several years, blamed on the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group. Militants have carried out several deadly attacks in Dashti Barchi, including a horrific 2020 attack on a maternity hospital that killed 24 people, including newborn babies and mothers.
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