UN raises Kabul classroom bombing death toll to 35 as women protest 'genocide'

Protesters gathered in front of a hospital and chanted slogans as dozens of heavily armed Taliban, some carrying rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, kept watch



By AFP

Published: Sat 1 Oct 2022, 2:50 PM

The death toll of a suicide bombing on a Kabul classroom has risen to 35, the UN said Saturday, as Shiite Hazara women who bore the brunt of the attack staged a defiant protest against the "genocide" of their minority community.

On Friday a suicide attacker blew himself up in a Kabul study hall as hundreds of pupils were taking tests in preparation for university entrance exams in the city's Dasht-e-Barchi area.

The western neighbourhood is a predominantly Shiite Muslim enclave and home to the minority Hazara community - a historically oppressed group that has been targeted in some of Afghanistan's most brutal attacks in recent years.

"The latest casualty figures from the attack number at least 35 fatalities, with an additional 82 wounded," the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in a statement.

More than 20 of the killed were girls and women, it said.

The UN mission's casualty figure is higher than the toll Kabul authorities have given.

An interior ministry official told AFP anonymously on Saturday that 25 people were killed and 33 wounded in the attack on the Kaaj Higher Educational Centre - updating an earlier toll of 20 killed and 27 wounded.

Since returning to power last August, security has been a sensitive topic for the Taliban and the hardliners have often been keen to downplay attacks challenging their regime.

Meanwhile on Saturday dozens of Hazara women defied a Taliban ban on rallies to protest the latest bloodshed in their community.

Around 50 women chanted, "Stop Hazara genocide, it's not a crime to be a Shiite", as they marched past a hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi where several victims of the attack were being treated.

Dressed in black hijabs and headscarves, the protesters carried banners that read: "Stop killing Hazaras", an AFP correspondent reported.

Witnesses have told AFP that the suicide attacker detonated in the women's section of the gender-segregated study hall.

"Yesterday's attack was against the Hazaras and Hazara girls," protester Farzana Ahmadi, 19, told AFP.

"We demand a stop to this genocide. We staged the protest to demand our rights."

Protesters later gathered in front of the hospital and chanted slogans as dozens of heavily armed Taliban, some carrying rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, kept watch.

No group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack.

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