Students killed in attack on education center in Hazara district of Kabul – The Diplomat

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The pulse | Company | South Asia

Another tragedy in the predominantly Hazara neighborhood Dashti Barchi. Another tragedy for Afghan women.

The family of a 19-year-old girl victim of a suicide bomber is in mourning, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, September 30, 2022.

Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi

In the Dashti Barchi district of Kabul, on September 30, an all too familiar scene: a suicide attack targeting not only civilians, but children. The attack at the Kaaj education center, where around 300 recent high school graduates sat for a practical exam, killed at least 25, according to the Afghan Ministry of Interiorwith a witness telling The Associated Press that the number looked more like 40.

It was another tragedy in the predominantly Hazara neighborhood, and another tragedy for Afghan women.

Among the students taking the practical exam at the Kaaj Education Center, a private tutoring operation, were many girls who struggled for education despite all possible challenges. After taking power last year, the new Taliban government barred women and girls from secondary education, with empty promises to eventually let them return. Although women were allowed to continue to attend and teach at the university level, restrictions are harsh: Women must cover up and cannot teach or be taught by men or attend classes with men. The ban on girls in most of Afghanistan from attending public secondary schools has cut off the path to university for many. But private institutions like the Kaaj Education Center, and some communities like Dashi Barchi, were helping the girls move forward with their educational ambitions.

But school is not a safe place in Dashti Barchi. Back in Aprilmultiple bomb blasts outside a neighborhood high school and education center – the Abdul Rahim Shahid Boys-Only High School and the nearby Mumtaz Education Center – left six people dead and 20 injured. The previous year, in May 2021, another bomb attack at a school in Dashti Barchi killed at least 50.

To add insult to injury, in the days following the recent school bombing, women who took to the streets in protest were pushed back by the Taliban. In Kabula women’s demonstration was violently suppressed by the Taliban. Similar protests took place in Herat and Bamyan.

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The Taliban government’s foreign ministry denounced the attack, with a deputy spokesperson saying, “The Islamic Emirate does not believe in the religious, ethnic or political division of Afghan nationals and considers itself responsible for the lives of all Afghans.”

A protester in Kabul told The Associated Press: “We ask the Taliban government, when they claim to have provided security, how can they not prevent an attacker from entering an educational center to target female students. In this incident, a family lost four members, why is this still happening? »

The recent attack and the response to the protests reveal the continuing insecurity in Afghanistan. Although violence resulting from the war has diminished, sudden and arbitrary death remains a risk for Afghans who go to school, go to the mosque or walk in the streets. These risks are amplified for Afghan minorities and Afghan women.

The Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) is believed to be responsible for the recent attack, as it has claimed responsibility for previous attacks targeting the Hazaras. The group’s ability to stage attacks in the Afghan capital underscores the Taliban’s inability to control terrorist groups operating on Afghan soil. This is a difficulty with which the previous Afghan government also struggled, despite much greater external assistance and capacity.

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