23 killed in Kabul blast at education centre

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Pakistan urges world not to let its guard down

A suicide bomb attack on a classroom of hundreds of people preparing for exams in the Afghan capital on Friday killed 23 people, with most of the casualties girls, police and a witness said.

The blast ripped through Kaaj Higher Educational Center, which coaches mainly adult men and women ahead of university entrance tests. “We were around 600 in the class. But most of the casualties are among the girls,” Akbar, a student who was wounded in the attack, told AFP from a nearby hospital.

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

“Students were preparing for an exam when a suicide bomber struck at this educational centre. Unfortunately, 23 people have been martyred and 27 others wounded,” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said.

Families rushed to area hospitals, where ambulances were arriving with victims and lists of those confirmed dead and wounded were posted on the walls. “We didn’t find her here,” a distressed woman looking for her sister at one of the hospitals told AFP. “She was 19 years old. We are calling her but she’s not responding.”

At at least one hospital, the Taliban forced families of victims to leave the site, fearing that there could be a follow-up attack on the crowd. Videos posted online and photos published by local media showed bloodied victims being carried away from the scene.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack in a series of tweets later in the day calling it “sheer barbarism”. He extended Pakistan’s “deepest condolences and most sincere sympathies to the bereaved families and people of Afghanistan”.

Shehbaz said that terrorism continued to threaten not just Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also the world. “The international community should not let its guard down. Strengthening global cooperation against changing threat matrix of terrorism is the need of the hour,” he added.—AFP

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