At least 53 people, most of them girls, have been killed, in a suicide bomb attack outside an education center in Afghanistan on Friday Sep. 30.
The bombing happened at the Kaaj education center in a a Hazara neighborhood in Kabul while many students, both boys and girls, were taking a mock university exam.
Under the Taliban’s new rules, girls and boys were seated separately during the exam, but the bomber had blown himself up closer to the girls’ section, according to exam proctors interviewed by the New York Times.
Initial reports from Emergency NGO said that most victims were women aged 18 to 25.
“We were around 600 [students] in the classroom, but most of the casualties are among girls,” a male student told AFP news.
Images showed destroyed desks, and people carrying injured victims outside of the center.
The United Nations Assistance Mission In Afghanistan said on Monday Oct. 3 that the death toll had risen to at least 53 people, with 46 being girls and women, and 110 injured.
Currently, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The school is located in Dasht-e-Barchi, an area frequently targeted by the Islamic State for its large population of Hazara Shiite Muslims.
International organizations including the UN and UNICEF have condemned the “heinous” attack.
The Taliban has been heavily criticized for failing to protect the Hazara minority, and the attack sparked outrage in the country, with women taking to the streets in several cities to protest.
The Director of Emergency NGO said in a statement that its hospital has already handled 12 mass casualties in the past two months, mainly in Kabul.
Last year, a car bomb detonated outside a girls’ school and killed at least 85 people with most victims being girls.