Blast kills 40 near school in Afghan capital Kabul09 May 2021
International Desk :
An explosion near a school in a Shia district of west Kabul has killed at least 40 people, many of them young students, and wounded dozens more, Afghanistan's interior ministry said.
Ambulances were rushing to evacuate the wounded from the scene of the blast on Saturday near Syed Al-Shahda school, in the Shia majority neighbourhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
Arian said at least 52 people were injured in the blast. He did not specify the cause or the target of the explosion. Ghulam Dastagir Nazari, spokesman for the health ministry, said 46 people had been taken to hospitals so far. Angry crowds attacked the ambulances and even beat health workers, said Nazari. He implored residents to cooperate and allow ambulances free access to the site.
Kabul is on high alert since Washington announced plans last month to pull out all US troops by September 11, with Afghan officials saying the Taliban has stepped up its attacks across the country.
No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday's blast.
The Taliban condemned the attack, apparently aimed at civilians, and denied any responsibility.
It took place in a heavily Shia Muslim neighbourhood that has frequently been attacked by ISIL (ISIS) fighters over the years. Al Jazeera's Filio Kontrafouri, reporting from Kabul, said the attack happened about 5:30pm Kabul time.
"This is the time when students were finishing their classes, and were heading home, and we are talking about hundreds of students attending schools at that time," she said.
She said witnesses reported three explosions that happened back to back, and "they were talking about girls who were panicking who started running around, crying, calling for their mothers as others were trying to transfer as many as they could to hospital".
The school is a joint high school for girls and boys, who study in three shifts, the second of which is for female students, Najiba Arian, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, told Reuters.
The wounded are mostly female students, she said.
"The horrendous attack in Dasht-e Barchi area in Kabul, is a despicable act of terrorism," the European Union's mission in Afghanistan said on Twitter.
"Targeting primarily students in a girls' school makes this an attack on the future of Afghanistan."