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 multiple explosions at a school in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday and dozens more, mostly female students, were injured in an attack. 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 footage showed chaotic scenes in which 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 for their sons and daughters, according to a Reuters witness.

A Home Office spokesman Tariq Arian said the death toll was at least 30 and 52 injured.

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.

Despite Ghani blaming the Taliban, the explosions took place on Saturday in a heavily Shiite Muslim neighborhood that has faced brutal attacks by Islamic State militants over the years, including a gruesome attack on a maternity ward almost exactly a year ago.

At Sayed ul Shuhada High School, girls and boys study in three shifts, the second of which is for female students, Najiba Arian, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, told Reuters. The wounded were mostly students, she said.

Ghani said: “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.”

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 the United States, its 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 would postpone the withdrawal deadline from May 1 to September 11, which the Taliban warned could have ramifications for the deal.

Washington’s top diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, condemned the attack in a post on Twitter: “This unforgivable attack on children is an attack on the future of Afghanistan that cannot be endured.

Neighboring Pakistan, which has significant influence over the Taliban and is pushing the group to resume peace talks and agree to a ceasefire, also condemned the attack.

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