Suicide bombing kills 19 at education center in Afghan capital

A suicide attack on a learning center in the Afghan capital killed 19 people on Friday morning as students prepared for exams, police said.

The blast occurred in the Dasht-e-Barchi district of western Kabul, a predominantly Shia Muslim area home to the minority Hazara community and the scene of some of Afghanistan’s deadliest attacks.

“Students were preparing for an exam when a suicide bomber hit this educational center. Unfortunately, 19 people were martyred and 27 others injured,” said police spokesman Khalid Zadran.

Videos posted online and photos released by local media showed bloodied victims being carried away from the scene.

“Security teams have reached the site, the nature of the attack and the details of the victims will be released later,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor tweeted.

“The attack on civilian targets demonstrates the enemy’s inhuman cruelty and lack of moral standards.”

The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan last year brought an end to the two-decade war and a sharp drop in violence, but the security situation has worsened in recent months among hard-line Islamists.

The Shia Hazaras of Afghanistan have been persecuted for decades, with the Taliban accused of abusing the group when they first ruled from 1996 to 2001.

Such accusations surfaced again after they returned to power.

Hazaras are also the frequent target of attacks by the Taliban opponent Islamic State. Both consider them heretics.

Countless attacks have devastated the area, many targeting children, women and schools.

Last year, before the Taliban returned, at least 85 people – mostly students – were killed and around 300 injured when three bombs went off near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.

No group claimed responsibility, but a year earlier, IS claimed to have carried out a suicide bombing at an education center in the same area, killing 24 people, including students.

In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody gun attack on a neighborhood hospital maternity ward that killed 25 people, including new mothers.

And in April this year, two deadly bombings at various educational centers in the area killed six people and injured at least 20 others.

Education is a trouble spot in Afghanistan as the Taliban prevent many girls from attending secondary school, while the Islamic State is also opposed to women’s and girls’ education.