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Saturday May 08 2021

40 killed, dozens injured in blasts targeting school in Kabul

An injured woman is transported to a hospital after a blast in Kabul, Afghanistan May 8, 2021. — Reuters

KABUL: At least 40 people were killed and dozens wounded, mostly female students, as multiple blasts targeted a school in the Afghan capital Kabul officials said on Saturday.

A senior interior ministry official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that most of the casualties were students coming out of the Sayed-ul-Shuhada school.

Footage on TV channel ToloNews showed chaotic scenes, with books and school bags strewn across a bloodstained road, and residents rushing to help victims.

At a nearby hospital, staff wheeled in injured students while dozens of distressed relatives searched for their sons and daughters, according to a Reuters witness.

A spokesman for the interior ministry, Tariq Arian, said the death toll was at least 30 with 52 injured.

Kabul is on high alert since Washington announced plans last month to pull out all US troops by September 11, extending their last-promised May 1 deadline.

No group has claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied the group was involved and condemned the incident.

Saturday's explosions were in a neighbourhood that has faced brutal attacks by Daesh militants over the years, including a gruesome attack on a maternity ward almost exactly a year ago.

At the Sayed-ul-Shuhada high school, girls and boys study in three shifts, the second of which is for female students, Najiba Arian, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Education, told Reuters. The wounded were mostly female students, she said.

Pakistan condemned the "reprehensible" attack which led to the loss of so many precious lives.

"The government and the people of Pakistan offer heartfelt condolences to the government and the people of Afghanistan and pray for quick recovery of the injured," read a statement by the Foreign Office.

The statement underscored that Pakistan condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations.

"At this moment of grief, Pakistan stands by Afghan brethren in their struggle against the scourge of terrorism," it said.

"Pakistan will continue to support Afghanistan on its path to peace, progress and prosperity," it added.

Washington's top diplomat in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson, condemned the attack in a post on Twitter: "With scores murdered, this unforgivable attack on children is as assault on Afghanistan’s future, which cannot stand."