Suicide bombing at Kabul education center kills 18, Afghan official says
The toll from a suicide attack Saturday in Afghanistan’s capital has risen to at least 18 killed and 57 people wounded, including students, the Interior Ministry said.
Afghan security officials separately announced Saturday that a senior Al Qaeda commander had been killed in a recent operation in the country’s east.
Saturday’s explosion in the capital struck outside an education center in a heavily Shiite neighborhood of western Kabul, Dasht-e-Barchi.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said that the attacker was trying to enter the center when he was stopped by security guards.
According to Arian, the casualty toll may rise further as family members of victims of the suicide bombing are still searching the hospitals where the wounded have been taken.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban rejected any connection with the attack.
An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for a similar suicide attack at an education center in August 2018 in which 34 students were killed. Within Afghanistan, Islamic State has launched large-scale attacks on minority Shiites, whom it views as apostates.
Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan fled the country in September after a gunman loyal to the militant group killed 25 people in an attack on a place of worship they share in Kabul.
Meanwhile, the Afghan intelligence service said on Twitter that special forces killed Al Qaeda’s No. 2 commander for the Indian subcontinent, Abu Muhsin al-Masri, in a recent operation in eastern Ghazni. The intelligence service did not immediately share more details about the operation.
Al-Masri was listed among the most wanted terrorists by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2018.
The U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict. U.S. officials said the deal would also help refocus security efforts on fighting Islamic State, which is a rival of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
There has been a surge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country recently, even as representatives from the two warring sides begin their own peace talks in Doha, Qatar, to end the decades-long war in Afghanistan.
Earlier Saturday a roadside bomb killed nine people in eastern Afghanistan after a minivan full of civilians struck the device, a local official said.
Ghazni province police spokesman Ahmad Khan Sirat said that a second roadside bomb killed two policemen, after their vehicle hit the device while making its way to the victims of the first explosion.
Sirat added that the bombings had wounded several others and that the attacks were under investigation.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The provincial police spokesman said that the Taliban had placed the bomb.
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