Kabul: Funerals were held in the Afghan capital on Sunday for the victims of a brutal attack a day earlier at a girls’ school that killed 58 young students and wounded another 100.
Most of those buried at a hilltop cemetery in Kabul were female students from the Sayed al-Shuhada School, a girls’ school in the largely Shia Muslim neighborhood of Dasht-e Barchi.
Most of the dead students were between 11 and 15 years old, the Interior Ministry said.
The explosion was caused by a car bomb followed by two IED explosions, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said.
The number of wounded in Saturday’s attack has also climbed to more than 100, he said.
Eyewitnesses said three explosions outside the school entrance struck as students were leaving for the day.
“A car bomb exploded in front of the Sayed Al-Shuhada School and immediately afterwards two more bombs were detonated by a remote control when students rushed out in panic”, they said.
Images shared on social media purportedly showed the aftermath of the explosion, with bloodied backpacks and books strewn across the street in front of the school, and smoke rising above the neighborhood.
One survivor, Zahra, told reporters she was leaving the school as the blasts took place.
“My classmate died. A few minutes later there was another explosion, and then another. Everyone was screaming and there was blood everywhere,” she said.
Another woman, Razia, told AFP news agency she had seen “many bloodied bodies in dust and smoke”.
“I saw a woman checking the bodies and calling for her daughter,” she said. “She then found her daughter’s bloodstained purse after which she fainted and fell to the ground.”
More than 100 people were injured in the attack. Reports from Kabul say the city was busy with shoppers ahead of this year’s celebrations for Eid al-Fitr next week.
Najiba Arian, ministry of education spokeswoman, told Reuters news agency the government-run school was open to boys and girls. Most of the those hurt were girls, who study in the second of three sessions, according to Ms Arian.
While Islamic State (IS) outfit claimed responsibility Afghan officials blamed the Taliban.
Interior ministry said, this attack was a suicide car bomb attack, carried out by Taliban, creating this huge crime.”
However the militant group denied involvement and condemned the attack, the deadliest in Kabul for months.
“This savage group does not have the power to confront security forces on the battlefield, and instead targets with brutality and barbarism public facilities and the girls’ school,” Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement.
Afghan officials have long accused the Taliban of trying to cover their tracks by allowing the much smaller Islamic State or Daesh extremist group to claim responsibility for some militant attacks.
Remnants of IS extremist group that was wiped out from Iraq and Syria have now established a base in Afghanistan taking advantage of lawlessness there.
IS was blamed for a vicious attack on a maternity hospital in the same area that killed 24 pregnant women and newborn babies last year.
In the capital rattled by relentless bombings, Saturday’s attack was among the worst.
The latest violence comes as fighting is soaring across the country amid the ongoing pullout of U.S. troops.
The pullout will be a major test for Afghan security forces, with U.S. generals and other officials expressing concerns in recent weeks that it might lead to the collapse of the Afghan government in the absence of progress on stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemned the terrorist attack in Kabul.
A ministry spokesman described the attack against civilians as detestable, particularly as the targets were girl students. He offered condolences to the survivors and families of those killed in the attack.
Nobel Prize winner and activist Malala Yousafzai – who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 – posted about the “horrendous attack” on Twitter.
“My heart is with the Kabul school victims’ families,” she wrote.
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