KABUL: At least 19 people were killed and 24 others wounded — all of them children and ordinary people — by a blast at a seminary in Afghanistan’s northern city of Aybak on Wednesday, hospital sources said.
There have been dozens of blasts and attacks targeting civilians since the Taliban returned to power in August 2021, most claimed by the local chapter of the Islamic State (IS) group. However, no group claimed the latest bombing till late Wednesday evening.
Aybak, about 200 kilometres north of the capital Kabul, is a small but ancient provincial capital that came to prominence as a caravan stopping post for traders during the fourth and fifth centuries when it was also an important Buddhist centre.
Images and video circulating on social media, which could not immediately be verified, showed Taliban fighters picking their way through bodies strewn across the floor of a building.
Prayer mats, shattered glass and other debris littered the scene.
A doctor at a local hospital in Aybak said the casualties were mostly youngsters. “All of them are children and ordinary people,” he said.
A provincial official confirmed the blast at religious seminary, but could not provide death toll. The Taliban, which frequently plays down casualty figures, said 10 students had died and “many others” were injured.
“Our detective and security forces are working quickly to identify the perpetrators of this unforgivable crime and punish them for their actions,” tweeted Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafay Takor.
Amnesty International called the blast “disturbing”, adding in a tweet it was “yet another reminder to the world that the sufferings of Afghan people are far from over.”
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022