At least 48 people have died after a suicide bomber targeted an education centre in a minority Shia area of western Kabul, in the latest assault in ’s war-weary capital.
“We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot,” said police spokesman Hashmat Stanikzai. “The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre.”
Another 67 people were wounded, according to the country’s health ministry. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Taliban quickly denied involvement.
In a separate incident earlier in the day a Taliban attack on an Afghan military outpost in the northern province of Baghlan killed up to 44 police officers and soldiers.
The attacks underlined how hard militants have been pressurising badly stretched local security forces, and came as the central city of Ghazni struggles to recover from .
Reza Rezaeee, a university student, said he rushed to the scene of the Kabul blast as soon as he could because he had friends who were studying at the education centre. “When I arrived I saw a heartbreaking and terrible scene,” Rezasee said. “There were many shattered bodies, blood everywhere. Other students were scared and running outside. Some were crying.”
Alibakhsh, a 35-year-old medic, said he saw at least 60 casualties. “While I was there I heard mobile phones ringing,” he said. “Presumably it was the victims’ families calling to check in on them after hearing the news of the explosion.”
Analysts have said the Ghazni assault was a military and psychological victory for the Taliban, proving the insurgents had the strength to strike a strategically vital city near the capital at will and remain entrenched there for days.
At least 100 security forces were killed in the fight for Ghazni, officials said, and it is feared that at least as many civilians died.
Civilian deaths in Afghanistan at record high, UN says
Afghan security forces have taken significant losses since US-led Nato forces pulled out of the country at the end of 2014. But it is ordinary Afghans who have borne the brunt of the violence, especially in Kabul, which the United Nations has said is the deadliest place for civilians in the country.
Militant attacks and suicide bombs were the leading causes of civilian deaths in the first half of 2018, a recent UN report said.
The escalation in violence comes as US and Afghan forces intensify ground and air offensives against Islamic State and the Taliban step up their turf war with the group.
The Taliban have not claimed a major assault in Kabul for weeks. Isis has carried out multiple attacks in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the capital in recent months, targeting sites including government ministries and a midwife training centre.