Sun | Jun 13, 2021

Bomb kills at least 30 near Afghan girls’ school

Published:Sunday | May 9, 2021 | 12:31 AM
An Afghan school student is treated at a hospital after a bomb explosion near a school west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 8, 2021.
An Afghan school student is treated at a hospital after a bomb explosion near a school west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, May 8, 2021.

KABUL (AP):

A bomb exploded near a girls’ school in a majority Shiite district of west Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 30 people, many of them young pupils between 11 and 15 years old. The Taliban condemned the attack and denied any responsibility.

Ambulances evacuated the wounded as relatives and residents screamed at authorities near the scene of the blast at Syed Al-Shahda school, in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said. The death toll was expected to rise further.

The bombing, apparently aimed to cause maximum civilian carnage, adds to fears that violence in the war-wrecked country could escalate as the U.S. and NATO end nearly 20 years of military engagement.

Residents in the area said the explosion was deafening. One, Naser Rahimi, told The Associated Press he heard three separate explosions, although there was no official confirmation of multiple blasts. Rahimi also said he believed that the sheer power of the explosion meant the death toll would almost certainly climb.

Rahimi said the explosion went off as the girls were streaming out of the school at around 4:30 p.m. local time. Authorities were investigating the attack but have yet to confirm any details.

One of the students fleeing the school recalled the attack. the screaming of the girls, the blood.

“I was with my classmate, we were leaving the school, when suddenly an explosion happened, “ said 15-year-old Zahra, whose arm had been broken by a piece of shrapnel.

“Ten minutes later there was another explosion and just a couple of minutes later another explosion,” she said. “Everyone was yelling and there was blood everywhere, and I couldn’t see anything clearly.” Her friend died.

While no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, the Afghan Islamic State affiliate has targeted the Shiite neighborhood before.

Images circulating on social media purportedly showed bloodied school backpacks and books strewn across the street in front if the school, and smoke rising above the neighbourhood.

At one nearby hospital, Associated Press journalists saw at least 20 dead bodies lined up in hallways and rooms, with dozens of wounded people and families of victims pressing through the facility.

Outside the Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital, dozens of people lined up to donate blood, while family members checked casualty posted lists on the walls.

Both Arian and Nazari said that at least 50 people were also wounded, and that the casualty toll could rise. The attack occurred just as the fasting day came to an end.