The Latest: UNICEF: Kabul attack on children ‘deplorable’
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Latest on the war in Afghanistan (all times local):
The head of the U.N. children’s agency says children continue to be hardest hit in the growing violence across Afghanistan and is calling the latest attack on a Shiite class in Kabul which killed or critically wounded dozens of children “deplorable.”
UNICEF executive director, Henrietta Fore, said after Wednesday’s attack that the agency is “gravely concerned about the growing violence across Afghanistan, especially over the past week, where children continue to be the hardest hit.”
She said UNICEF again calls on all parties to the conflict “to adhere to and respect humanitarian principles, and ensure the safety and protection of all children.”
Fore added that “children are not, and must never be the target of violence.”
Afghanistan’s president has condemned the suicide bombing in Kabul that targeted Shiite students studying for university entrance exams, killing 48.
The strongly worded statement by President Ashraf Ghani denounced the “terrorist bombing” on Wednesday, and ordered relevant authorities to investigate how the attack happened.
Ghanis says that in “this terrorist bombing once again, the terrorists martyred and wounded the innocent” — students attending a training class in a Shiite neighborhood of Kabul.
He added that “by targeting educational and cultural centers, terrorists have clearly shown they are against all those Islamic principles (that strive) for both men and women to learn and study.”
Afghanistan’s Public Health Ministry says the casualty toll from the suicide bombing that struck a Shiite neighborhood in Kabul has risen to 48 dead and 67 wounded.
The ministry’s spokesman, Wahid Majroh, says the figures are not final and that the toll from Wednesday’s attack could rise further.
The bomber targeted a private building in the Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-i Barcha where a group of young men and women, all high school graduates, were studying for university entrance exams.
Majroh didn’t say if all the victims were students and whether any of their teachers were also among the casualties.
The Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman says the death toll from a suicide bombing that targeted a Shiite neighborhood in Kabul has risen to 25.
The spokesman, Najib Danish, says at least 35 people were also wounded in the attack on Wednesday afternoon. He says the casualty tolls could rise further.
Afghan officials say the bomber targeted a private building in the Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-i Barcha where a group of young men and women, all high school graduates, were studying for university entrance exams.
The explosion initially set off gunfire from Afghan guards in the area, leading to assumptions that there were more attackers but all indications were that only one bomber was involved.
Jawad Ghawari, a member of the city’s Shiite clerical council, blamed the Islamic State group for the attack, which carried all the hallmarks of past IS attacks that have hit Shiites mosques, schools and cultural centers.
He says that in past two years, there were at least 13 attacks on the Shiite community in Kabul alone.
The chief of Kabul ambulance services says the death toll from a suicide bombing in a Shiite area of the Afghan capital has jumped to 15.
Mohammad Asim, Chief the Kabul Ambulance says 17 other people were wounded in the bombing on Wednesday that targeted a training class in a private building in the Shiite neighborhood of Dasht-i Barcha.
He says the victims are being taken to various hospitals in Kabul and that he fears the death toll would rise further.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, was quick to deny any involvement by the insurgents in the attack.
Both the resurgent Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate in Afghanistan have targeted Shiites in the past, considering them to be heretics.
Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has targeted a training class in a private building in a Shiite neighborhood of Kabul, killing one person and setting off a gunbattle with security guards in the area.
Najib Danish, spokesman for the Interior Misnitry, says Wednesday’s attack took place in western Kabul, in the Dasht-i Barcha neighborhood.
Mohammad Asim, chief of the Kabul ambulance services, says one person was killed and 12 were wounded in the attack. The casualties were taken to a hospital.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Abdul Hossain Hossainzada, a Shiite community leader in western Kabul, told The Associated Press that the bomber apparently targeted the course, which was preparing students for university entrance exams. He says a gunbattle is now underway in the area.
An Afghan official says six children were killed when they tinkered with an unexploded rocket shell, causing it to blow up.
Sarhadi Zwak, spokesman for the governor of the eastern Laghman province, says the victims were girls, aged 10-12, who were gathering firewood on Wednesday. He blamed insurgents, saying the rockets they fire at Afghan security forces often harm civilians.
Afghanistan is littered with unexploded ordnance left by decades of war. It is also plagued by roadside bombs planted by insurgents, which are usually intended for security forces but often kill and wound civilians.
Afghan officials say a Taliban assault on two adjacent checkpoints in the northern Baghlan province has killed 30 soldiers and police.
Mohammad Safdar Mohseni, head of provincial council, says the insurgents set fire to the checkpoints after the attack late Tuesday in the Baghlan-I Markazi district. Dilawar Aymaq, a parliamentarian from Baghlan, confirmed the attack.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.
The resurgent Taliban carry out near-daily attacks against Afghan security forces, who have struggled to combat the insurgency since the U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014.
An Afghan official says Taliban attacks have killed four police in southern Zabul province.
Provincial police chief Mustafa Mayar says the Taliban attacked security posts in the Zabul capital of Qalat early Wednesday, killing the four and wounding three other officers.
He says the gunbattle lasted several hours during which the Taliban used artillery and heavy guns. The attack also left seven rebels dead and five others wounded.