Blast at education institute in Afghan capital killing numerous and wounding many

Photo: Alain Pitton/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A suicide attack at an education institute in the Afghan capital of Kabul killed 19 people and wounded dozens, police said on Friday, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Kabul police spokesperson Khalid Zadran said that in addition to the deaths, 27 people had also been injured in the attack, revising the number of wounded down slightly from the 29 announced earlier.

The death toll and the numbers of injured has again risen at the time of reporting.

He said the attack took place at an education institute where an entrance exam was taking place. Schools are normally closed in Afghanistan on Fridays.

"Attacking civilian targets proves the enemy's inhuman cruelty and lack of moral standards," he said, without specifying who they believed was behind the attack.

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

The official death toll is likely to rise. A hospital source said 23 people had been killed. A Taliban source said 33 people had been killed and that female students were among the casualties.

The interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafy Takor confirmed the presence of security teams and said that the nature of the attack and the details will be released as the investigation concludes.

Many of those living in the western area where the blast occurred are Hazara, an ethnic minority that have faced persecution for decades, with the Taliban accused of abuses against the group when they first ruled from 1996 to 2001.

Hazaras are also the frequent target of attacks by the Taliban's enemy the Islamic State group. Both consider them heretics.

Education is a flashpoint issue in Afghanistan, with the Taliban blocking many girls from returning to secondary education, while the Islamic State also stands against the education of women and girls.

Since taking over Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban have emphasised that they are securing the nation following decades of war, but recent months have seen a series of blasts at mosques and civilian areas.

Teenage students were among the 24 people killed in a 2020 attack claimed by Islamic State at an education centre in west Kabul.

The blast happened in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of western Kabul, a predominantly Shiite Muslim area home to the minority Hazara community, the scene of some of Afghanistan's most deadly attacks.

The Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan last year brought an end to the two-decade war and a reduction in violence, but security has begun to deteriorate again in recent months under the hardline Islamists.