– SAIFURAHMAN SAFI / XINHUA NEWS / CONTACTOPHOTO
At least 19 people have been killed and 27 others injured, mostly students, as a result of an explosion attributed to a bomb attack on an educational center in the Afghan city of Kabul, police sources have reported.
The incident took place at around 07.30 am local time in the Dasht e Barchi area in the west of the Afghan capital, home to a large part of the city’s minority Hazara and Shiite communities, according to the Afghan Interior Ministry and reported by Tolo News.
“An educational center named ‘Kaj’ in the 13th district of Kabul city, which was holding the entrance exam this Friday, has been attacked. Unfortunately, preliminary information shows that 19 people lost their lives and 27 others were injured,” detailed Kabul Police spokesman Jalid Zadran on Twitter.
“Attacks on civilian targets demonstrating the brutality of the enemy are strongly condemned,” the Police spokesman added, shortly before the Taliban government specified that the explosion had been caused by an explosive device, without giving further information for the moment on the exact nature of the attack.
For the time being, both the Taliban and the international community have repudiated the “enormous horror” of this new attack against minorities residing in the west of the capital, as described by the Afghan Taliban deputy information minister, Zabibullah Mujahid. “I share with the families of the victims their deep sense of grief and we will take the necessary measures to punish the perpetrators of this act,” he said on his Twitter account.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has declared its “dismay” at a “heinous” attack. “Violence in or around educational facilities is never acceptable. Such places should be havens of peace where children can learn, be with their friends and feel safe while developing skills for their future,” the agency said.
“Children and adolescents are not, and should never be, targets of violence. Once again, UNICEF reminds all parties in Afghanistan to adhere to and respect human rights and ensure the safety and protection of all children and young people,” the fund added.
Also the UN Mission in Afghanistan, UNAMA, has repudiated this “ruthless attack,” as has also the chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in the Central Asian country, Karen Dicker. “Targeting a classroom full of students taking an exam is a shameful act and all students should study in a calm atmosphere, without fear or anxiety,” she said in a statement reported by Khaama Press.
So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the blast fits the ‘modus operandi’ of the Islamic State jihadist organization, which has western Kabul and its Shiite and Hazara population as regular targets for its attacks in the Afghan capital.
In the NGO chapter, Amnesty International has characterized the attack as a suicide bombing and called on the Taliban authorities to conduct an “independent investigation” into what happened. The director for Afghanistan of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Neil Turner, recalls that this attack comes only a few months after the one committed against Abdul Rahim Shahid’s male high school in the same neighborhood.
“We call on the Afghan authorities to ensure that educational facilities are protected from threats and attacks, and that girls and boys can fully enjoy their rights to education,” Turner said.
For its part, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced that this new event shows “once again” that the Taliban are not able to protect minorities in Afghanistan, as the attack took place in a place inhabited by people of the Hazara community.
“The leaders of armed groups should one day face justice for their atrocities against the Hazara and other communities,” said HRW Asia researcher Fereshta Abbasi, according to the NGO on its Twitter profile.
“Taliban officials who do not take steps to protect religious minorities from attacks may be complicit in these serious crimes,” Abbasi concluded.