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Blasts at Shiite school kills 6 in Kabul

KABUL: At least six people were killed and 24 wounded on Tuesday by two bomb blasts that struck a boys’ school in a Shiite Hazara neighbourhood of the Afghan capital, police and hospital staff said. The number of attacks in the country has significantly declined since the Taleban ousted the US-backed Afghan government in August, but the jihadist Islamic State group has claimed several attacks since then.

Several bodies were strewn outside the gate of the Kabul school, alongside patches of blood, burnt books and school bags, according to images posted on social media. “We were leaving school and had just stepped out from the rear gate when the explosion occurred,” Ali Jan, a student who was wounded in the first blast, told AFP at a hospital.

The second blast took place as rescuers arrived to ferry victims from the first explosion to hospitals. “When I heard of the blast I called one of my friends who studies at that school,” said wounded shopkeeper Murtaza. “His phone was switched off. Then I went to the site… and that’s when I was hit in the second blast.” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told AFP that the attack outside the Abdul Rahim Shahid school was caused by improvised explosive devices, killing six people. “These are preliminary figures. We are at the site and waiting for more details,” he said.

Two hospitals confirmed they were treating a total of 24 people wounded in the blasts. Zadran said a third blast had occurred at an English language centre in the same area, but did not specify whether it was caused by an explosive. Zadran had earlier tweeted that three blasts had rocked the school. Outside the hospital, Taleban fighters beat back relatives of victims who had gathered, an AFP correspondent reported.

Back-to-back blasts

The Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood is mainly home to the Hazara community and has been previously targeted by the jihadist Islamic State group-a rival of the Taleban, also a hardline Sunni Islamist movement. The Hazara community, which makes up between 10 and 20 percent of the country’s 38 million people, has long been the target of mass-casualty attacks, some blamed on the Taleban during their 20-year insurgency. Since seizing power the Taleban have regularly carried out raids on suspected IS hideouts, mainly in the eastern Nangarhar province.

Taleban officials insist their forces have defeated IS, but analysts say the jihadist group is a key security challenge. IS has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in recent years. In May last year at least 85 people-mainly girl students-were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi. No group claimed responsibility, but in October 2020 IS claimed a suicide attack on an educational centre in the same area that killed 24, including students. In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody gun attack on a maternity ward of a hospital in the neighbourhood that killed 25 people, including new mothers. – AFP

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