A suicide attack in the Kabul courtroom kills 19 people, mostly young women

A suicide bomber attacked an education center in the Afghan capital on Friday where hundreds of students were preparing for university exams, killing at least 19 people, most of them young women.

The attack took place in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood in western Kabul, an area with a Shiite Muslim majority that is home to the Hazara minority community, the target of some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan.

The bomber killed two security guards before entering the gender-segregated classroom, student Ali Irfani, who escaped the carnage, told AFP.

“Not many kids were impressed because they were at the back of the class. The bomber entered the front door where the girls were sitting, “she said.

Akbar, another student witness, also told AFP that young women made up the majority of the victims, with up to 600 people in the hall at the time.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast at the Kaaj Higher Educational Center, which trains students for university entrance tests.

However, the Islamic State jihadist group has claimed previous attacks in the area against girls, schools, mosques and a maternity hospital.

A resident who ferried victims to hospitals said he saw body parts scattered across the hallway floor.

“Many students have been hit by shrapnel in the head, neck and eyes,” Asadullah Jahangir said.

Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said 19 people were killed and another 27 injured.

A neighborhood shopkeeper said there was a loud explosion and then a crowd of students rushed out of the center.

“It was chaos when many students, boys and girls, tried to escape from the building. It was a horrible scene. Everyone was so scared, “she told AFP, asking for anonymity.

The Italian NGO Emergency, which runs a hospital in Kabul, said it had welcomed 22 patients into the facility, including 20 women, two of whom had died.

“The victims are all between 18 and 25 years old and most of them were in class to take an exam,” a statement read.


The return to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan last year ended a two-decade war and a significant reduction in violence, but security has begun to deteriorate in recent months.

In April, two deadly bomb blasts on the same day in separate education centers in Dasht-e-Barchi killed six people and injured at least 20 others.

Friday’s attack is a “shameful reminder of the Taliban’s ineptitude and total failure, as the de facto authority, to protect the people of Afghanistan,” Samira Hamidi of Amnesty’s human rights group said in a statement. International.

UN Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, condemned the attack.

“The assault on education for Hazaras and Shiites must stop. Stop the attacks on the future of Afghanistan, stop international crimes, “he said on Twitter.

Afghan Shiite Hazaras have been persecuted for decades, targeted by the Taliban during their uprising against the former US-backed and IS-backed government, both of whom consider Shiites to be heretics.

On Friday, families rushed to hospitals where ambulances with victims arrived and lists of confirmed dead or injured were posted on the walls.

“We didn’t find her here,” a distressed woman looking for her sister in one of the hospitals told AFP. “She was 19”.

“We are calling her but she doesn’t answer”.

Last year, before the Taliban came back to power, at least 85 people – mostly schoolgirls – were killed and around 300 injured when three bombs exploded near their school in the area.

No group claimed responsibility, but a year earlier IS claimed a suicide attack on an education center in the same neighborhood that killed 24 people, including students.

In May 2020, the group was charged with a firearm attack on the maternity ward of a Dasht-e-Barchi hospital that killed 25 people, including new mothers.

Education is a critical point in Afghanistan, with the Taliban preventing many girls from returning to secondary education. The Islamic State also opposes the education of women and girls.