A horrific attack on an Afghan girls school in Kabul has left at least 30 people dead, mostly students between 11-15 years old. Another 50 or more were injured in a bombing that the Taliban has denied responsibility for.
It’s the deadliest attack to strike the Afghan capital in months as U.S. and NATO forces begin a withdrawal. The attack occurred at the Syed Al-Shahda school in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood. An Interior Department spokesman says the death toll is likely to rise.
The bombing, apparently aimed to cause maximum civilian carnage, adds to fears that violence in the war-wrecked country could escalate as the U.S. and NATO end nearly 20 years of military engagement.
Residents in the area said the explosion was deafening. One, Naser Rahimi, told The Associated Press he heard three separate explosions, although there was no official confirmation of multiple blasts. Rahimi also said he believed that the sheer power of the explosion meant the death toll would almost certainly climb.
Rahimi said the explosion went off as the girls were streaming out of the school at around 4:30 p.m. local time. Authorities were investigating the attack but have yet to confirm any details.
If the Taliban is denying responsibility, that only leaves the Islamic State as likely suspects. ISIS is not very strong in Afghanistan. It has been degraded considerably in the last three years but has made its presence felt on several occasions, including attacks last year on two schools, killing 50. The neighborhood where the bombing occurred has been targeted before, as ISIS hates Shiites.
But ISIS isn’t alone in its Shiite hate. The Sunnis in Kabul also expressed their displeasure with the Shiites.
In Dasht-e-Barchi, angry crowds attacked the ambulances and even beat health workers as they tried to evacuate the wounded, Health Ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigar Nazari said. He implored residents to cooperate and allow ambulances free access to the site.
There is no hope for this country. None.