KABUL, Afghanistan – The death toll in a horrific bomb attack at a girls’ school in the Afghan capital has risen to 50, many of them aged 11 to 15, the Interior Ministry said on Sunday.
The number of injured in Saturday’s attack also rose to more than 100, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
Three explosions outside the school entrance struck as the students left for the day, he said. The explosions occurred in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood west of the capital. The Taliban denied responsibility, condemning the attack.
The first explosion was from a vehicle full of explosives, followed by two more, Arian said, adding that the number of victims could rise further.
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In the capital rocked by relentless shelling, Saturday’s attack was among the worst. Criticism has grown over the lack of security and growing fears of even greater violence as the United States and NATO complete their final military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The attack targeted the ethnic Hazaras of Afghanistan who dominate the western neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, where the shelling took place. Most Hazaras are Shia Muslims
The region has been hit by violence against the Shiite minority and most often claimed by the Islamic State affiliate operating in the country. No one has yet claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks.
The radical Sunni Muslim group has declared war on the Shiites of Afghanistan. Washington blamed ISIS for a vicious attack last year on a maternity hospital in the same region that killed pregnant women and newborn babies.
Soon after the bombing, angry crowds attacked ambulances and even beat health workers as they tried to evacuate the injured, Health Ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigar Nazari said. . He implored residents to cooperate and allow ambulances free access to the site.
Bloody backpacks and school books lay outside the Syed Al-Shahda school. In the morning, the boys attend classes in the large school grounds and in the afternoon, it is the girls’ turn.
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Locals said the explosion was deafening. Naser Rahimi told The Associated Press he heard three separate explosions and immediately thought the sheer power of the explosions meant the death toll would almost certainly increase.
One of the students fleeing the school recalled the attack, the girls’ screams, the blood.
“I was with my classmate, we were leaving school, when suddenly an explosion occurred,” said Zahra, 15, whose arm was broken by a shrapnel.
“Ten minutes later there was another explosion and a few minutes later another explosion,” she said. “Everyone was screaming and there was blood everywhere, and I couldn’t see anything clearly.” Her friend is deceased.
Outside Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, dozens of people lined up to donate blood, as family members checked the lists of injured people posted on the walls .
Most of the dozens of wounded brought to the EMERGENCY hospital for war wounded in the Afghan capital, “almost all girls and young women aged 12 to 20,” said Marco Puntin, the program coordinator of the war. hospital in Afghanistan.
In a statement following the attack, the EMERGENCY hospital said the first three months of this year saw a 21% increase in war casualties.
ISIS has previously claimed responsibility for attacks against a Shiite minority in the same region, claiming two brutal attacks on educational institutions last year that killed 50 people, most of them students.
Even though ISIS has been degraded in Afghanistan, according to the US government and officials, it has stepped up its attacks, especially against Shia Muslims and working women.
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Previously, the group had taken responsibility for the targeted assassination of three female members of the media in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack comes days after the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 US troops officially began to leave the country. They will be released on September 11 at the latest. The pullout comes amid the resurgence of the Taliban, who control or dominate more than half of Afghanistan.
The senior US military officer said on Sunday that Afghan government forces face an uncertain future and possibly “possible bad results” against the Taliban insurgents as the withdrawal accelerates in the coming weeks.
Associated Press photographer Rahmat Gul and video journalist Ahmad Seir in Kabul, Afghanistan and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad, Pakistan contributed to this report.