Blasts at Schools in Shiite Area of Kabul Leave Dozens Killed, Injured
Several explosions outside an education center and a public high school in Afghanistan’s capital on Tuesday killed at least 15 people and wounded at least a dozen more, many of them students, including one as young as 7.
Both the education center and the school targeted on Tuesday are in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of the capital, Kabul, an area dominated by Shiites
Around three hours later, the nearby Abdul Rahim Shaheed High School was hit by at least three explosions, Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for the Kabul police, said on Twitter. Thousands of students attend the public high school, among the largest in the western part of Kabul.
Mr. Zadran said that at least six people were killed and 11 more wounded in the attack on the high school.
The devastation on Tuesday began around 7 a.m. when a blast rocked the Mumtaz Educational Center, a private facility offering tutoring for boys and girls studying for the nationwide university entrance exam.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Kabul on Tuesday.
The country’s security situation has improved significantly since the Taliban took power last August, ending the US’s 20-year deployment in Afghanistan.
Shiite Minority Frequently Targeted
The Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of the capital, Kabul, was frequently targeted by Islamic State’s affiliate groups. In a particularly devastating attack last year, bombs were set off outside a girls’ school in the neighborhood, killing at least 90 people, many of them teenage girls leaving class.
The explosions on Tuesday stoked deep-seated fears among the Shiite community that they remain greatly at risk despite pledges by the Taliban to end decades of bloodshed against them.
In October of last year, suicide bombings at Shiite mosques in one northern and one southern city together killed more than 90 people, and an attack on a Shiite-dominated area of Herat, a major city in western Afghanistan, killed at least six people in January. The Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan, which considers Shiites heretics, claimed responsibility for all three attacks.
Last August, human rights organisation Amnesty International found evidence that Taliban fighters had killed nine Hazara men after taking control of Ghazni province in July.
Growing Fears Among Minorities
The ISIL (ISIS) armed group has also targeted ethnic Hazaras in Afghanistan in major bombings in recent years.
Since the fall of the Afghan government last month, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that more than 9,290 new refugees have arrived in Pakistan, more than 90 percent of them through the southern border crossing between the Afghan town of Spin Boldak and the Pakistani town of Chaman.
Of those who have arrived, more than 30 percent are estimated to be of the Hazara ethnicity, UNCHR says.
Pakistan currently hosts more than 1.4 million registered Afghan refugees, according to UNHCR data, with another two million estimated to be living in the country without formal documentation.
These include refugees who have lived in the country for more than 30 years, fleeing first the Soviet invasion and ensuing war in 1979, the civil war that followed and then the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan.
Pakistan has facilitated international evacuations from Afghanistan during the crisis, with government officials estimating that at least 13,000 individuals – mostly third-country citizens from the US, Europe and elsewhere – have travelled through Pakistan by air or by road in order to reach safety.
Officials, however, say the country will not accept any new refugees.