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Afghanistan: at least six dead in explosions in a Kabul school

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Two homemade bombs exploded in front of the Abdul Rahim Shahid school, located in the district of Dasht-e-Barchi, in the west of the capital, killing six and injuring 11 according to a “preliminary” report. AFP Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran.

At least six people were killed in two explosions that hit a boys’ school on Tuesday in a district of Kabul largely populated by members of the Shiite Hazara minority and already targeted several times in the past. Two homemade bombs exploded in front of the Abdul Rahim Shahid school, located in the district of Dasht-e-Barchi, in the west of the capital, killing six and injuring 11 according to a “preliminary” report. AFP Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran. A third blast occurred at an English-language training center in the same neighborhood, he added, without saying whether it was also caused by an explosive device.

Dasht-e-Barchi is home to many members of the Hazara minority, marginalized for centuries and regularly persecuted in this predominantly Sunni country. The neighborhood has often been targeted in the past by the Islamic State (IS) group. The explosions occurred when the students were leaving class in the middle of the morning, told AFP a witness, who requested anonymity. Horrifying images circulating on social media showed several bodies lying on the ground at the entrance to the compound, amid pools of blood, charred books and scattered school bags. Victims were taken to hospital, but the Taliban prevented journalists from approaching them.

Heretics

Security in the country has improved greatly since the Taliban took power in August and the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, after 20 years of attrition against their military presence. Attacks, mainly claimed by the Islamic State-Khorasan (EI-K), the regional branch of the IS, however, still occur regularly in the country.

Dasht-e-Barchi has been hit in recent years and since the Taliban’s return to power by several attacks claimed by EI-K, which considers the Hazaras heretics. In May 2021, a series of explosions occurred in front of a school for girls in this district, killing 85 people, mostly high school girls, and injuring more than 300. First a car bomb exploded in front of the school, then two more bombs followed as students rushed outside. IS, which claimed responsibility for an attack in October 2020 against an educational center (24 dead) in the same area, is strongly suspected of having carried out this attack.

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A district targeted in May 2020

In this same neighborhood, in May 2020, a group of armed men attacked a maternity hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières in broad daylight, killing 25 people, including 16 mothers, some of whom were about to give birth. This attack had not been claimed, but the United States had accused the IS of being responsible for it. Smaller attacks, claimed by EI-K, still took place in Dasht-e-Barchi in November and December 2021. The Taliban themselves have often attacked Afghan Shiites, members of the Hazara community, which represents between 10 and 20% of the Afghan population (approximately 40 million inhabitants).

The Taliban are trying to downplay the threat of ISIS and are waging a ruthless fight against the group, which they have been fighting for years. They multiplied raids, particularly in the eastern province of Nangharar, and arrested hundreds of men accused of being part of it. They now claim to have defeated EI-K, but analysts believe that the extremist group is still the main security challenge for the new Afghan power.

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