Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Suicide blast in Shia area of Kabul kills 19, Taliban say

A view of the education center that was attacked by a suicide bomber, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. A Taliban spokesman says a suicide bomber has killed several people and wounded others at an education center in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital. The bomber hit while hundreds of teenage students inside were taking practice entrance exams for university, a witness says. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
A view of the education center that was attacked by a suicide bomber, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. A Taliban spokesman says a suicide bomber has killed several people and wounded others at an education center in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital. The bomber hit while hundreds of teenage students inside were taking practice entrance exams for university, a witness says. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

A suicide bomber has struck an education centre in a Shia area of the Afghan capital, killing 19 people and wounding 27, including teenagers who were taking mock entry exams for university, a Taliban spokesman said.

The morning explosion took place in Kabul’s Dashti Barchi neighbourhood, an area populated mostly by ethnic Hazaras, who belong to Afghanistan’s minority Shia community.

The so-called Islamic State group has carried out repeated attacks on schools, hospitals and mosques in Dashti Barchi and other Shia areas in recent years.

Afghanistan
The family of a 19-years old girl mourn in Kabul (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Around 300 recent high school graduates, boys and girls, had gone to the Kaaj Higher Educational Centre at 6.30am to take exams, said one survivor, 19-year-old Shafi Akbary. The facility helps students prepare and study for the entrance exams, among other activities.

About an hour into the session, the blast went off.

“First, we heard the sounds of a few gunshots at the main gate. Everyone was worried and tried to run to a different direction,” said Mr Akbary, speaking to the Associated Press over the phone. “Soon after that, a huge explosion occurred inside the centre.”

Mr Akbary, who was unharmed, said he saw dozens of bodies and wounded people scattered around him. “I was so afraid and couldn’t even move myself to help them. Later, other people ran inside and took us out,” he added.

Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman of the Kabul police who gave the casualty toll, said students were among the victims of the blast, but he did not specify how many.

Afghanistan
An Afghan woman shows a picture of a 19-year-old girl who was victim of the bombing (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

He said education centres in the area will need to ask the Taliban for additional security when they host events with big gatherings.

Police have arrested a suspect who may have links to the attack, Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said later.

No one immediately claimed the attack, but IS, the chief rival of the Taliban, has been waging a campaign of violence that has intensified since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

Afghanistan’s Hazaras have been a frequent target of the violence. In Dashti Barchi, IS carried out a 2020 attack on a maternity hospital that killed 24 people, including newborn babies and mothers, and an attack on a school in 2021 killed more than 90, mostly schoolgirls.

The neighbourhood sees frequent bombings of minibuses and earlier this year a school and another education centre were hit nearly simultaneously, killing six.

Afghanistan suicide bomber
Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the education centre (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Amnesty International’s South Asia campaigner Samira Hamidi said Friday’s attack showed the “utter failure of the Taliban, as de-facto authorities, to protect the people of Afghanistan”.

She said the Taliban have taken few measures to protect the public, especially Shias and Hazaras. “Instead, their actions of omission and commission have only further aggravated the risk to the lives of the people of Afghanistan, especially those belonging to ethnic and minority communities,” she said.

The United Nations children’s agency Unicef said it was appalled by Friday’s attack. “Children and adolescents are not, and must never be, the target of violence,” it said in a tweet.

Since seizing power, the Taliban have banned most girls beyond sixth grade from attending school, but female high school graduates from previous years can go to university.