Explosions against the Afghan school in Kabul kill 40 people and injure dozens

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© Reuters. An injured woman is rushed to hospital after an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 8, 2021. REUTERS / Mohammad Ismail

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KABUL (Reuters) – At least 40 people were killed in several attacks on a school in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday and dozens more, mostly female students, were injured in one attack. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused the Taliban insurgents.

A senior Interior Ministry official told Reuters, on condition of anonymity, that most of the victims were students from Sayed ul Shuhada School.

ToloNews television footage showed chaotic scenes outside of school. Books and school bags were strewn across a blood-stained street, and residents rushed to help the victims.

At a nearby hospital, staff rolled up injured students while dozens of needy relatives searched desperately for their sons and daughters, according to a Reuters witness.

Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian put the death toll at 30 or more and injured himself at 52, but did not specify the cause or the target.

Kabul has been on high alert since Washington announced plans last month to withdraw all US troops by September 11th. Afghan officials said the Taliban stepped up attacks across the country following the announcement.

No group took responsibility for Saturday’s attack. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the group was involved and condemned the incident.

Saturday’s explosions took place in West Kabul, a heavily Shiite Muslim neighborhood that has been frequently attacked by Islamic State militants over the years.

The school is a joint high school for girls and boys studying in three shifts, the second of which is for female students, Najiba Arian, spokeswoman for the education ministry, told Reuters.

The wounded are mostly students, she said.

“The terrible attack in the Dasht-i Barchi region in Kabul is a despicable act of terrorism,” said the European Union Mission in Afghanistan on Twitter.

“If you are mainly aimed at girls in a girls’ school, it is an attack on the future of Afghanistan.”

President Ghani accused the Taliban.

“By escalating their illegitimate war and violence, the Taliban have shown once again that they not only hesitate to resolve the current crisis peacefully and fundamentally, but also complicate the situation,” said Ghani.

The Taliban and the United States signed an agreement last year to end the 20 Years War that began with the invasion of Afghanistan by the United States and allied forces following the September 11, 2001, attacks by al-Qaeda in New York Leader Osama bin Laden was protected by the Taliban government.

Under the agreement, Washington should withdraw troops in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban and the group should start peace talks with the Afghan government. Talks started last year but have stalled since then.

The Taliban’s attacks on foreign armed forces have largely stopped, but continue to target government troops. A number of journalists, activists and academics have been killed in attacks on the Taliban who refuse to participate.

Last month, Washington said it had postponed the May 1 to September 11 withdrawal deadline, which the Taliban warned could have ramifications for the deal.

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