Suicide bombing in Kabul kills 18, including schoolchildren

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The death toll from a suicide attack on Saturday in Afghanistan’s capital has risen to at least 18, with 57 people wounded, including schoolchildren, the Ministry of Interior Affairs said.

The explosion struck outside an education centre in a heavily Shia neighbourhood of western Kabul, Dasht-e-Barchi.

The ministry spokesperson, Tariq Arian, said the attacker was trying to enter the centre when he was stopped by security guards.

Arian said the casualty toll may rise further as family members of victims of the suicide bombing are still searching the several different hospitals where the wounded were taken.

No group has claimed immediate responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban rejected any connection with the attack.

An affiliate with the group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for a similar suicide attack at an education centre in August 2018, in which 34 students were killed. Within Afghanistan, ISIS has launched large-scale attacks on minority Shia Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, 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 members of the shrinking community in an attack on their share of a place of worship in Kabul.

The United States 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 agreement would also help refocus security efforts on fighting the Islamic State, which is a rival of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

There has been an upsurge 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.

Relatives carry the coffin of a victim who was killed after a roadside bomb tore through a minivan full of civilians in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province on Saturday. (AFP via Getty Images)

Earlier Saturday, a roadside bomb killed nine people in eastern Afghanistan after it struck a minivan full of civilians, a local official said.

Ghazni Province police spokesperson Ahmad Khan Sirat said that a second roadside bomb killed two police officers after it struck their vehicle, which was making its way to the victims of the first explosion.

Sirat said the bombings had wounded several others and that the attacks were under investigation.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The provincial police spokesperson claimed that the Taliban had placed the bomb.