The death toll from an explosion near a school in a Shiite district in western Kabul has risen to 58, Afghan officials said on Sunday, with doctors struggling to provide medical care to at least 150 people. wounds.
The bombing on Saturday evening shook the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood in the city. The community, a religious minority in Afghanistan, has been targeted in the past by Islamic State.
An eyewitness told the Reuters news agency that all but seven or eight of the victims were schoolgirls who were going home after finishing their studies.
Bodies of morgues were still being collected when the first burials were carried out west of the city. Some families were still looking for missing relatives on Sunday, gathering at hospitals to read names posted on the walls and checking the morgues.
Kabul has been on alert since Washington announced its plans last month remove all US troops on Sept. 11, according to Afghan officials that the Taliban have intensified their attacks across the country.
No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s blast.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack, blaming the Taliban even when the group denied it. He offered no proof.
“The Taliban, in intensifying their illegitimate war and violence, have once again shown that they are not only reluctant to resolve the current crisis peacefully and fundamentally, but are complicating the situation,” Ghani said.
The Taliban condemned the attack, apparently aimed at civilians, and denied any responsibility.
It took place in a neighborhood that has often been attacked by ISIL fighters (ISIS) over the years.
Filio Kontrafouri, of Al Jazeera, Kabul informant, said the attack took place around 5:30 pm Kabul time (13:00 GMT).
“This is the time when students finished classes and went home, and we talked about hundreds of students attending schools at that time,” he said.
He said witnesses reported three explosions that happened from behind and that “they were talking about girls who were panicking, who started running, crying, calling their mothers, while others were trying to move them. the maximum in the hospital “.
“The whole city falls asleep after this attack.”
The school is a joint institute for girls and boys, which studies in three shifts, the second of which is for female students, Najiba Arian, a spokesman for the education ministry, told Reuters.
“Despicable act of terrorism”
The European Union mission in Afghanistan condemned what it said was a “horrific attack”.
“[This] … it is a despicable act of terrorism, “the mission said on Twitter.
“Addressing students from a girls’ school mainly makes this an attack on the future of Afghanistan. About young people determined to improve their country. “
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed its “deep revulsion” at the blast.
The family of the United Nations a #Afganistan expresses its deep revulsion at today’s explosions in Dasht-I-Barchi # Acceptance. An atrocity. Many civilians killed and wounded. Our heartfelt condolences are to the families of the victim and we wish the injured a speedy recovery.
– UNAMA News (@UNAMAnews) May 8, 2021
In May last year, a group of gunmen attacked a hospital in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood in a blatant daylight raid that killed 25 people, including 16 mothers of babies.
The hospital was supported by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the international medical charity, which later withdrew from the project.
No group claimed the attack, but President Ghani blamed the Taliban and ISIL.
On October 24, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a training center in the same district and killed 18 people, including students, in an attack that also went unreported.
Saturday’s attack comes days after the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops officially began leaving the country.
They will disappear no later than September 11th. The withdrawal comes amid a resurgence of the Taliban, which controls or dominates more than half of Afghanistan.
Under an agreement signed by the Taliban and the U.S. last year, Washington was to withdraw troops in exchange for Taliban security guarantees and for the group to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government. Talks began last year, but have since stalled.
Taliban attacks on foreign forces have largely ceased, but they continue to target government forces. Several journalists, activists and academics have also been killed in guilty attacks on the Taliban, which denies their involvement.
The top U.S. military official said Sunday that Afghan government forces face an uncertain future and potentially some “possible bad results” against Taliban fighters as the withdrawal accelerates in the coming weeks.