Residents mourn after attack leaves at least 50, mostly schoolgirls, dead in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan — People of Kabul are mourning the deaths of more than 50 civilians — mostly schoolgirls between 11 and 15 years old — killed in a bombing Saturday night.
The attack on the Syed Al-Shahda school left an additional 100 civilians injured, a statement by the Interior Ministry said.
On Sunday at the site of the attack, children picked through items left behind, including notebooks riddled with holes and discarded clothing.
One child picked up a piece of shrapnel, taking care not to touch its jagged edges before tossing it back on the ground.
Multiple blasts struck around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, just as Kemia, a 15-year-old student, and her classmates were walking home from school. She recalled hearing three blasts, and then she and her terrified classmates scattered into the nearby hills.
At least 12 classmates that she knew are dead, Kemia said, adding that the trauma of the attack lingered hours later.
“I was so sad last night, I didn’t sleep a second,” she said.
Another student at the school, Shakeeba, 17, said she was shaken but still wants to continue her education.
“We’ll be scared to go back, but we are not going to stop our education,” she said.
The Afghan government blamed the Taliban for the attack, while the militant group blamed the Islamic State.
The attack targeted the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood, a majority Shiite district in the west part of Kabul home to many members of one of the country’s minority ethnic groups, the Hazara.
The neighborhood has been the site of other gruesome attacks in recent years. Gunmen attacked a maternity ward in the area last year that killed pregnant women and newborn babies, and the bombing on a wrestling gym in 2018 left more than 20 dead.
The Afghan government should do a better job of protecting Dasht-e-Barchi and its Hazara community, resident Khan Mohammad said Sunday.
“If the government cannot provide us security, they should announce it, then we can start doing our own security,” Mohammad said.
Mohammad, 26, sells vegetables from a cart near the school. He said after he heard the explosions, he ran to the scene. He saw dozens of bodies mangled by the bombing. For an hour after the blast, Mohammad said he and others gathered bodies to deliver to the families of the schoolgirls. He recognized three: one was his cousin; two others were neighbors.
It took ambulances an hour to arrive after the blast, and some girls would be alive if help had arrived sooner, Mohammad said.
Some residents said they are worried that violence will increase even more once U.S. and coalition troops leave the country. U.S. and coalition troop are set to withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending America’s longest war. But the drawdown could finish even sooner than that date.
A U.S. military transport plane passed over the school Sunday afternoon, prompting several residents to turn their heads skyward.