| 24 February 2024, Saturday |

Female students protest against the deadly Kabul attack as toll jumps to 43

Around 50 women chanted, “Stop Hazara genocide, it’s not a crime to be a Shiite”, as they marched on Saturday in Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood where the death toll from a suicide bomb attack on an education centre in the Afghan capital last week has risen to at least 43.” Education is our weapon and they want to take this weapon away from us,” said 19-year-old Wajiha, a day after escaping the assault.
“I want to study,” she told AFP. “It’s my dream and I will always fight for it.”
The rallies have been dispersed by Taliban forces often firing shots into the air and beating protesters.
A suicide bomber blew himself up next to women at a study centre in a Kabul neighbourhood on Friday when hundreds of students were sitting a practice test ahead of an entrance exam for university admissions. Male students were also sitting the mock exam but, according to the Taliban source and a witness, the attacker went to the part of the class where young women sat separated from their male peers, resulting in high female casualties.

“Forty three killed. 83 wounded. Girls & young women were the main victims,” the UN mission said in a tweet, adding that casualties were expected to rise further.
Girls’ secondary schools have been closed in most provinces including Kabul since the Taliban took over the country in August 2021. The leadership backtracked on promises to open all schools in March.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the incident. However, jihadist Islamic State group (IS) which considers Shiites as heretics has carried out several deadly attacks in the area targeting girls, schools and mosques. Taliban officials condemned the attack and the group’s spokesperson said they would find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

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