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Blast Targets Kabul Education Centre

The explosion occurred in the predominantly Hazara area of Dasht-e Barchi, with significant casualties among female students.


30 Sept 2022

On September 30, at around 0700 local time, an explosion occurred at the ‘Kaaj Higher Education Center’ in the predominantly Hazara area of Dasht-e Barchi, Kabul, with significant casualties among female students who were sitting exams at the time. Police and witnesses say at least 19 people were killed and nearly 30 others wounded. At the time of writing, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Afghan Witness (AW) investigators were able to geolocate the education centre, as well as images showing the aftermath of the explosion to a side road off the main Shaheed Mazari Road:

Figure: Geolocation of image showing the aftermath at Kaaj higher education centre, as well as casualties taken away from the area of the explosion in Dasht-e Barchi, PD13 [34.503014, 69.081021]

AW Investigators were able to visually confirm at least 12 casualties through analysis of user generated content shared on social media. Videos shared online show that victims were taken to the Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital. An article by CNN reported that Abdu Ghayas Momand, a doctor at the hospital, claimed to have received 59 victims of the explosion, including 23 fatalities.

After analysis of the footage and casualties at the hospital, the explosion likely occurred in the front of the exam room, in which the women and girls were seated. A timetable, shared by the education centre on their Facebook page, indicated the centre was hosting several exams throughout the day. This was supported by eyewitness accounts in local media.

Unnamed sources told Aamaj News that an explosion occurred when the students of an educational institution were taking a test exam. According to an unidentified student who spoke to Etilaatroz, the explosion occurred in the front row where the female students were sitting. Taiba Mehtarkhil, a female student and an eyewitness of the event spoke to CNN and confirmed that many of the casualties were young women. Several local media sources, including 8am, claim at least 60 casualties as a result of the explosion, while claims on social media say the number of casualties reached 200. According to an article by EuroNews, Kabul Police Spokesperson Khalid Zadran claimed that the explosion was a result of a suicide attacker who detonated explosives among students as they were preparing for the university entrance exam.

A student from the education centre, interviewed in the aftermath of the explosion, stated:

“At 6.15 am, forms were distributed for our exam. In the middle of the exam, we heard gunshots and there were around 700 people in the classroom. The attacker came towards us. Our class had three doors, two for boys and one for girls. Students were panicking because of the gunshots. The attacker came in and exploded himself among the girls. The attacker came in via the door for girls, so most of the victims were girls. I saw many victims killed and injured. Some had their body parts amputated. The ceiling was destroyed and filled with students.”

Taliban response

The Spokesperson of the Taliban’s Interior Ministry confirmed a large number of casualties shortly after the explosion had occurred:

“An educational course named "Kaj" in the 13th district of Kabul city, which was holding the entrance examination today, was attacked. Unfortunately, preliminary information shows that 19 people lost their lives and 27 others were injured. Attacks on civilian targets that prove the brutality of the enemy are strongly condemned.”

He further added his wish for educational facilities to inform the security district about their special programmes. Khalid Zadran also confirmed a large number of casualties in a similar statement.

Previous explosions in the area

Figure: Map overview of ISKP-claimed explosions [black] and unclaimed explosions [red] along or near the Shaheed Mazari Road in PD6 and PD13, in the Dasht-e Barchi area of western Kabul.

Since the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan in 2021, at least seven explosions have occurred in the Dasht-e Barchi area in western Kabul. Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISKP) has claimed five attacks along the Shaheed Mazari Road, specifically targeting Shia and Hazara civilians in the area. It has also been the scene of two unclaimed attacks. This explosion marks the eighth attack.

In 2021, before the Taliban takeover, at least 85 people – mostly female students – were killed and about 300 others wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e Barchi.

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