The Citizen (Gauteng)
Girls targeted in school bombing
BLOODY: DOZENS OF BURIALS AFTER SERIES OF BLASTS Officials blame the Taliban, which denies involvement.
Dozens of girls were buried yesterday at a desolate hilltop cemetery in Kabul, a day after a secondary school was targeted in the bloodiest attack in Afghanistan in over a year.
A series of blasts outside the school during a peak holiday shopping period killed more than 50 people, mostly girl pupils, and wounded over 100 in Dash-e-Barchi, a west Kabul suburb populated mostly by Hazara Shiites.
The government blamed the Taliban, but it denied responsibility and issued a statement, saying the nation needed to “safeguard and look after educational centres and institutions”.
Saturday’s blasts came as the US military continues to pull out its last 2 500 troops from the violence-wracked country, despite faltering peace efforts between the Taliban and Afghan government to end a decades-long war.
Interior Ministry spokesman Tareq Arian told reporters a car bomb detonated in front of the Sayed al-Shuhada girls school, and when the students rushed out in panic, two more devices exploded.
Residents were shopping ahead of this week’s Eid al-Fitr holiday, which marks the end of Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Yesterday, relatives began burying the dead at a hilltop site
known as Martyrs Cemetery, where victims of attacks against the Hazara community are laid to rest.
Hazaras are Shiite Muslims and considered heretic by extremist Sunnis. Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the Afghan population.
Afghan officials, including President Ashraf Ghani, blamed the Taliban.
“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,” Ghani said.
The Taliban insists it has not carried out attacks in Kabul since February last year, when it signed a deal with Washington that paved the way for peace talks and withdrawal of the remaining US troops.
But the group has clashed daily with Afghan forces in the rugged countryside even as the US military reduces its presence.