Kabul: A suicide bomber struck an education centre in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital on Friday, killing 19 people and wounding 27, including teenagers who were taking practice entry exams for university, a Taliban spokesman said. The morning explosion at the centre took place in Kabul’s Dashti Barchi neighbourhood, an area populated mostly by ethnic Hazaras, who belong to Afghanistan’s minority Shiite community. The Islamic State group has carried out repeated, horrific attacks on schools, hospitals and mosques in Dashti Barchi and other Shiite areas in recent years.
Around 300 recent high school graduates, boys and girls had come to the Kaaj Higher Educational Center at 6:30 am to take practice exams, said one survivor, 19-year-old Shafi Akbary. The facility helps students prepare and study for the entrance exams, among other activities. About an hour into the session, the blast went off. First, we heard the sounds of a few gunshots at the main gate. Everyone was worried and tried to run in a different direction,” said Akbary, speaking to The Associated Press over the phone. “Soon after that, a huge explosion occurred inside the centre.
Akbary, who was unharmed, said he saw dozens of bodies and wounded people scattered around him. I was so afraid and couldn’t even move myself to help them. Later, other people ran inside and took us out, he added. Akhbary said he has attended classes at the centre the past six months
Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman of the Kabul police who gave the casualty toll, said students were among the victims of the blast, but he did not specify how many. He said education centres in the area will need to ask the Taliban for additional security when they host events with big gatherings like Friday’s exam prep.
Police have arrested a suspect who may have links to the attack, Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said later. He was unable to provide any updates on the casualties. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. But the Islamic State group, the chief rival of the Taliban, has been waging a campaign of violence that has intensified since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021.