Afghanistan

Death toll rises to 43 in Kabul tutoring center bombing

The United Nations office in Afghanistan (UNAMA) on Monday said the death toll in a suicide attack at Kaaj education center in the west of Kabul has risen to 43.

At least 83 others were wounded in the attack and girls and young women are the main victims, the UN said.

“Casualty figures likely to rise further. Verification process continues by UNAMA human rights teams in Kabul,” the organization said.

The attack happened at the Kaaj tutoring center in the Dasht-e-Barchi area west of Kabul, where most of its residents are Hazara and Shia communities.

The bombing at the education center which happened during a practice exam in the girls’ section of a packed room at Kaaj Education Institute was followed by widespread reactions within and outside the country, prompting the StopHazaraGenocide campaign on social media and in women’s protests in Kabul, Herat, Balkh and Bamiyan provinces.

However, women’s protests in Kabul, Herat, Bamiyan and Balkh were faced with violence by the Taliban whose armed members tried to stop protesting women by firing in the air.

Quoted by Rueters, the sister of a girl killed in the blast said on Sunday that she would “never give up” on lessons.

“It is a harrowing scene, but we will continue with the lessons and will never give up or stop,” said Asya Asghari, whose 17-year-old sister Um al-Banin was killed in the attack.

Also quoted by Reuters, Al-Banin’s father, Haji Mir Ahmad, said his daughter wished to become a president or lawyer so that she could serve Afghans.

The attack on Kaaj was the fifth bombing in Kabul in September.

Reactions

The attack was widely condemned within and outside the country. The UN special rapporteur Richard Bennett condemned the attack and said it was a repeat of a Daesh attack at the same location in 2018.

“Onslaught on education for Hazaras and Shia must end,” he asked. “Stop attacks on Afghanistan’s future. Stop international crimes.”

Former president Hamid Karzai said the attack was against all Islamic and human values.

Sibghatullah Ahmadi, spokesman for the anti-Taliban resistance front, said the Taliban rule allows “free movement of other terrorist groups” in Afghanistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif says he is deeply grieved at the loss of young lives in the attack on an education center in Kabul.

“Words can’t express this sheer barbarism,” he said, calling for “strengthening global cooperation against changing threat matrix of terrorism.”

The Emergency Hospital in Kabul said that 22 patients, including 20 women, have been received at the health facility following the suicide attack on an education center in the Hazara-majority Dasht-e-Barchi area.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan also condemned “the callous attack at an education center in a Hazara and Shia-majority area” in the west of Kabul.

Meanwhile, US Chargé d’Affaires Karen Decker said the US strongly condemns today’s attack on Kaaj Education Center in Kabul.

“Targeting a room full of students taking exams is shameful. All students should be able to pursue an education in peace and without fear,” she added.