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UN condemns Kabul School attack

MANHATTAN: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has condemned Tuesday’s deadly attacks on schools in Kabul, saying assault against civilians and civilian infrastructure is a crime under international law.

At least six people were killed and many more injured in the blasts which happened at the Abdul Rahim Shahid high school.

A nearby tuition centre was also targeted in a grenade attack.

“Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including schools, are strictly prohibited under international humanitarian law,” the Secretary-General’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement read out at the regular noon briefing.

“He (the secretary-general) extends his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a swift recovery to those injured,” the statement added.

The head of the UN Mission in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, also condemned the attack emphasizing that those responsible for the crime of targeting schools and children must be brought to justice.

She also extended her deepest sympathies to the victims’ families and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.

It may be recalled that at least six people were killed and 24 wounded on Tuesday by two bomb blasts that struck a boys’ school in a Shiite Hazara neighborhood of the Afghan capital, police and hospital staff said.

The number of attacks in the country has significantly declined since the Taliban ousted the US-backed Afghan government in August, but the jihadist Islamic State group has claimed several attacks since then.

Several bodies were strewn outside the gate of the Kabul school, alongside patches of blood, burnt books and school bags, according to images posted on social media.

“We were leaving school and had just stepped out from the rear gate when the explosion occurred,” Ali Jan, a student who was wounded in the first blast, told Media at a hospital.

The second blast took place as rescuers arrived to ferry victims from the first explosion to hospitals.

“When I heard of the blast I called one of my friends who studies at that school,” said wounded shopkeeper Murtaza.

“His phone was switched off. Then I went to the site… and that’s when I was hit in the second blast.”

Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran told the Media that the attack outside the Abdul Rahim Shahid school was caused by improvised explosive devices, killing six people.

“These are preliminary figures. We are at the site and waiting for more details,” he said.

Two hospitals confirmed they were treating a total of 24 people wounded in the blasts.

Zadran said a third blast had occurred at an English language centre in the same area, but did not specify whether it was caused by an explosive.

Zadran had earlier tweeted that three blasts had rocked the school.

Outside the hospital, Taliban fighters beat back relatives of victims who had gathered, a correspondent reported.

– Back-to-back blasts –

The Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood is mainly home to the Hazara community and has been previously targeted by the jihadist Islamic State group – a rival of the Taliban, also a hardline Sunni Islamist movement.

The Hazara community, which makes up between 10 and 20 percent of the country’s 38 million people, has long been the target of mass-casualty attacks, some blamed on the Taliban during their 20-year insurgency.

Since seizing power the Taliban have regularly carried out raids on suspected IS hideouts, mainly in the eastern Nangarhar province.

Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated IS, but analysts say the jihadist group is a key security challenge.

IS has claimed some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan in recent years.

In May last year at least 85 people – mainly girl students – were killed and about 300 wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.

No group claimed responsibility, but in October 2020 IS claimed a suicide attack on an educational centre in the same area that killed 24, including students.

In May 2020, the group was blamed for a bloody gun attack on a maternity ward of a hospital in the neighborhood that killed 25 people, including new mothers.


M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.