KABUL – A bomb exploded near a school in a Shiite district of west Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 25 people, many them young students, Afghan government spokesmen said. The Taliban condemned the attack apparently aimed at civilians, and denied any responsibility.
Ambulances were rushing to evacuate wounded from the scene of the blast near Syed Al-Shahda school, in the Shiite majority neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
Angry crowds attacked the ambulances and even beat health workers, said Health Ministry spokesman Ghulam Dastigar Nazari. He implored residents to cooperate and allow ambulances free access to the site.
Images circulating on social media purportedly showed smoke rising above the neighborhood.
At one nearby hospital, Associated Press journalists saw at least 20 dead bodies lined up in hallways and rooms, with dozens of wounded people and families of victims pressing through the facility.
Outside the Muhammad Ali Jinnah Hospital, dozens of people lined up to donate blood, while family members checked casualty posted lists on the walls.
Both Arian and Nazari said that more than 50 people were also wounded, and that the casualty toll could rise. The attack occurred just as the fasting day came to an end.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told reporters in a message that only the Daesh [ISIS] terror group could be responsible for such a heinous crime.
The extremist group has previously claimed attacks against minority Shiites in the same area, last year claiming two brutal attacks on education facilities that killed 50 people, most of them students.
Even as the Daeash [ISIS] has been degraded in Afghanistan, according to government and US officials, it has stepped-up its attacks particularly against Shiite Muslims and women workers.
Earlier the group took responsibility for the targeted killing of three women media personnel in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack comes days after the remaining 2,500 to 3,500 American troops officially began leaving the country. They will be out by Sept. 11 at the latest. The pullout comes amid a resurgent Taliban, who control or hold sway over half of Afghanistan.
The top U.S. military officer said Sunday that Afghan government forces face an uncertain future and possibly some “bad possible outcomes” against Taliban insurgents as the withdrawal accelerates in the coming weeks.