AUG 15, 2018: A suicide bomber struck a private education center in a Shia neighborhood of Kabul on Wednesday where high school graduates were preparing for university entrance exams, killing 48 young men and women and leaving behind a scene of devastation and tragedy.
“We can confirm the attack was caused by a bomber on foot. The bomber detonated himself inside the education center,” said police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai.
The ministries of interior and health confirmed that at least 60 people were injured in the Dasht-i Barcha neighborhood.
The bombing, blamed on the Islamic State group, was the latest assault on Afghanistan’s Shia community, which has increasingly been targeted by extremists.
It also showed how militants are still able to stage large-scale attacks, even in the heart of Kabul, and underscored the struggles of the Afghan forces to provide security and stability on their own.
On August 3, nearly 40 people were killed and dozens more injured in a bombing and shooting attack on Shia worshippers in eastern Afghanistan city of Gardez, the center of Paktia province.
It was not immediately clear how the bomber managed to sneak into the building, used by the Shia community as an education center, in the Dasht-i Barcha area of Kabul.
The spokesman for the public health ministry, Wahid Majroh, said 67 people were also wounded in the bombing and that the death toll which steadily rose in the immediate aftermath of the bombing could rise further. He did not say if all the victims were students and whether any of their teachers were also among the casualties.
The explosion initially set off gunfire from Afghan guards in the area, leading to assumptions that there were more attackers involved, but officials later said all indications were that there was only one bomber.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Jawad Ghawari, a member of the city’s Shia clerical council, blamed IS, which has carried similar attacks on Shias in the past, hitting mosques, schools and cultural centers. In the past two years, there were at least 13 attacks on the Shia community in Kabul alone, he said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the “terrorist” attack that “martyred and wounded the innocent” students attending class and ordered an investigation into the attack.
“By targeting educational and cultural centers, terrorists have clearly shown they are against all those Islamic principles (that strive) for both men and women to learn and study,” Ghani said in a statement.
The Foreign Office (FO) in Islamabad strongly condemned the “inhuman and incomprehensible act of terrorism” through Twitter.
FO spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal tweeted: “We strongly condemn this inhuman and incomprehensible act of terrorism at an educational institute in kabul. Our hearts go out to the affected families.”