Afghanistan’s capital Kabul has seen its 22nd explosion this year alone. According to media reports, a suicide bomber killed 19 and injured 27 in an educational institute while students were preparing for an exam. The blast occurred in the Shia neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, home to the Hazara community. It is an endangered minority, often a target of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan.
Victims included both men and women high school graduates preparing for university exams. Videos circulating on social media show people dragging their dead bodies to the medical centres. It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack.
Harrowing Videos on Social Media
Highly graphic videos have been shared online where rows of dead students can be seen under blood-stained sheets. Another showed the aftermath inside the tuition centre, which was reduced to rubble. The institution’s name was Kaaj, where both male and female students came to study. As most girls’ schools have been closed in Afghanistan since the Taliban took over the country, few private institutions like this one have remained open despite the threat.
The total number of death and injuries is still unclear. Many journalists and reporters claimed that the death toll was way higher than what the Afghan police were reporting to the media.
Reaction from the US
The international community condemned the terrorist attack on students who were trying to study. The US also responded and asserted that students must be allowed to pursue an education without fear of getting blown up.
The Taliban also condemned the attack and offered its condolences to the families of the victims. Spokesperson of Interior Ministery Abdul Nafi Takor issued a statement pledging tightened security in the region. He also said the “enemy” proved its “inhuman cruelty” and “lack of moral standards” by targetting civilians.
Minority Community Under Attack
The Hazara community had faced devastating attacks for decades. Terrorists specifically target educational institutions, children, and women in their areas. Mostly the Taliban were accused of abuses against the minority during their first rule from 1996 to 2001. The accusations returned when they regained power in the region after the US forces quit. Hazaras are also in the crosshairs of the Taliban’s adversaries, the Daesh or the Islamic State (IS) group.
In 2019, Kabul was rocked by a bomb blast in the Puli Muhammad Khan neighbourhood, where 50 school-going children were injured. In 2020, IS carried out a suicide attack on Kawsar-e Danish education centre in Dasht-e-Barchi, killing 24 people, including students. They were again accused of gunfire at a hospital’s maternity ward, killing 25 people, including women that had just become mothers. Before the Taliban came to power in 2021, 3 bombs exploded near the school in the same area, killing at least 85 and injuring more than 3000 people. The victims were mostly girl students. Neither the Taliban nor IS claimed responsibility for the attack.
Education remains a prominent issue in Afghanistan, with the reports of the Taliban banning girls from schools and IS being the most lethal opponent of girls’ education.