A suicide attack on Kaj Educational Center – KEC in west Kabul left dozens dead and wounded. So far, in this catastrophic attack, the Taliban have only confirmed the death of 19 students and the wounding of 23. Public sources, however, describe the casualties of this explosion as higher than the statistics that have been made public by the Taliban. They claim that about 30 students have died and more than 40 others were severely injured. According to public sources, most of the victims of this suicide attack are girls. Videotapes related to this incident, which are circulating on social media, tell the extent of the horror and the catastrophe of this incident.
The attack on Kaj Educational Center took place around 6:30 a.m. on Friday, September 30, in the Hazara area of ”Dasht Barchi” in the west area of Kabul city. This attack took place when the students gathered to participate in the demo Public University Entrance Examination. Khalid Zadran, the spokesman of the Taliban security department for Kabul, wrote in a tweet that preliminary information shows that 19 people were killed and 27 others were injured. Public sources, however, state that the number of casualties is higher than the announced figure. A source from the scene of the incident told Hasht-e Subh Daily that the human casualties of this event reached nearly 100 people, most of whom were girls. This source explains that only 57 dead and wounded were transferred to two hospitals; Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Watan Private Hospital, which are located close to the incident area.
One of the witnesses of this catastrophe, whose video is circulating on social media, says: “I witnessed the incident. The exam started at 6:15 a.m. The exam papers were distributed. We were almost in the middle of the exam when a shot rang out. They targeted the guards of the gate first, and later they entered inside the training center and then entered the classroom, where there were approximately 700 students in the class. There came a little pause for the exam, and almost 400 people were remaining in the class. The classroom had three gates, two gates for boys and one gate for girls. When the sound of a shooting came, the girls and boys started shouting and everyone got worried. [The attacker] came in and blew himself up among the girls.”
Maryam Shafaie, one of the students of Kaj Educational Training Center and a witness of the scene, told Hasht-e Subh Daily that she had a demo exam with her classmates at 6:30 a.m. This student adds: “We had a test at 6:30 a.m. Unlike usual, I left home late. Wahida called and said hurry up, I have got the exam paper and saved a place for you. A few minutes later, Nazanin called again. She said where have you been… I said I am coming. I was nearly reaching the Educational Center and there came sounds of the gun firing. One shot, two shots, three shots, ten shots and… The girl who was walking in front of me started running away, but I ran towards the Educational Center. I was near the gate when the explosion occurred. So, I ran and saw the boys throwing themselves down from the wall under the barbed wires. The girls also threw themselves. Almost everyone was full of blood. No matter how much I waited for Nazanin and Wahida, they did not come. I went into the Educational Center, but there was no way, everything was broken. I went forward and saw Wahida lying in pieces on the bricks. There was nothing left of the class. It smelled very bad. Wahida left, Nazanin left, Shabnam left, Narges left, Benin left and Aniseh left, and…”
She adds: “You know what? If Wahida had not gone, this year she would have secured the first position in the National Entrance Examination. We all took an oath last Friday to try harder than anyone else. This Friday, but…”
Tayyaba Mehtarkhel, who reached the scene of the accident after the explosion, said in a conversation with Hasht-e Subh Daily: “It was 7:44 a.m. when I opened my Facebook. I saw that there was an explosion in the Kaj Educational Center. I called Maryam immediately to make sure nothing has happened to her. She said I am fine, she just cried and hung up.” Mrs. Mehtarkhel adds: “When I went to the Educational Center which is located at Naqash section of Dasht Barchi area, inside the alley, the number of the Taliban militants were more than the number of the families of the victims. No one was allowed to enter the Educational Center. I went in from the alley behind. There was a mosque in the same alley, I saw that 15 bodies were placed in the courtyard of the mosque. Their bodies were covered with the banner of the Educational Center. Everyone was coming and watching the bodies. There, I saw that they took the body of a child to the morgue of the mosque.”
Tayyaba Mehtarkhel notes: “The explosion occurred inside Class A, one of the most populated classes. Because it was a trial exam and there were about 300 to 400 people inside that hangar, which was a classroom. They were present there and with keeping the distance between them.” This witness adds that the Taliban did not allow anyone to record videos and take pictures. “When I was about to take a video, a car full of Taliban came,” she explains: “One of them got out of the car and said in Pashto that you should not let anyone in the street or the alley because they are journalists. Whoever takes films and videos, take their mobile and camera.”
When Tayyaba is unable to take pictures or videos of the accident site due to the fear of the Taliban, she goes to Watan Hospital to identify the bodies. She says: “I went inside the hospital. The hospital floor was dedicated to corpses. The wounded were on the ground floor. When I entered the ground floor, they had thrown a white cloth over the corpses. There were four or five bodies. The tiles of the hospital were full of blood. The wounded had their skulls broken, all their body parts were dismembered and they were transferred to other hospitals.” She says that only in the first 15 minutes of the explosion, she counted 23 bodies; But all the efforts of the Taliban have been to avoid the spread of information. According to her, the fighters of this group treated the families of the victims “very harshly and very badly”.
A video recorded in one of the hospitals in the west of Kabul the capital and published on social media shows the bodies of six people on the floor of a hospital, covered with a white cloth, and the rest of the wounded being transported by nurses and relatives of the wounded for treatment. In this videotape, a screaming woman can be seen walking around the head of a man who is being transferred to a mobile hospital bed. She hugs the body covered in blood and cries loudly.
Another videotape circulating on social media shows three people carrying a girl’s body covered with a banner that appears to belong to the Kaj Educational Center. Still, other men are pulling out the bloody bodies of the girls from among the bricks and collapsed objects. Many corpses can be seen in a corner of this place.
In this attack, a guard was also killed. One of the relatives of the guard, who does not want his name to be mentioned in the report, tells Hasht-e Subh Daily that he [the guard] was the sole breadwinner of his family of several people. He adds: “I’m on my way, we’re going to bury him. This country is nothing more than hell for us.”
However, the residents and the families of the victims of this incident complain that the Taliban fighters treated them violently. Videotapes published from the scene of the incident show that the Taliban forces did not allow the survivors of the victims to enter the scene and also the hospital to transfer the bodies. In another videotape, it can be seen that the family member of one of the victims of the attack on the Kaj educational center is complaining in a sad voice about the Taliban’s violent behavior. He says: “We went to the hospital to find and help our loved ones, we were beaten, we were threatened, they stuck a gun rod in my shoulder to tell me to leave.” In response to the interviewer, he says: “My brother’s child is killed, his name is Javed.”
On the other hand, it has been reported that the Taliban have arrested several journalists who were covering the incident. Julia Parsi, one of the protesting women who went to Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital, says that the Taliban had beaten the Journalista and arrested them.
Reactions to the Attack
The suicide attack on Kaj Educational Training Center has provoked widespread reactions. In addition to the messages of condolence and condemnation of politicians, citizens have also reacted to this incident. Social media users describe the Taliban’s claim about “providing security throughout the country” as false and consider this group to be the “mastermind” of such bloody attacks.
One of the users of social networks wrote: “Those who support the Taliban should not write false condolences; They are partners in these bloodsheds.” Some users of social networks have written: “The disaster of the Mauood Educational Center repeated.” According to them, “Kaj” is the same educational center as “Mauood” which was attacked on August 16, 2018, and as a result, 50 students were killed. According to these users, the statistics reported by public sources show that more than 60 people were killed in this attack.
Taliban officials have repeatedly said that after their arrival, security has been established throughout the country and there is no threat from terrorist groups, including ISIS. The narrative of providing “National security” is widely promoted by the Taliban officials, but explosions and attacks on schools and mosques after the Taliban took over have challenged this narrative.
Records of the Attacks on Educational Centers in West Kabul
Cultural, sports, educational centers, and mosques in the west of Kabul city have been subjected to bloody attacks continuously in the last two decades. Earlier, the attack on Mauood Educational Center left 48 dead and 67 wounded. This attack happened about four years ago and all the victims were students.
On October 24, 2020, Kawsar Danesh Educational Center was targeted by a suicide attack. According to the official statistics, dozens of people were killed or injured in this suicide attack. ISIS has taken responsibility for all these attacks.
This year, the first attack on educational centers in the west of Kabul took place on Tuesday, April 19. This event occurred when a mine placed in an educational center called “Mumtaz” in the Qala Nou section of the Dasht Barchi area, exploded. It happened just when the students were leaving the place. Hours after that, successive explosions took place in Abdul ur-Rahim Shahid High School. Abdul ur-Rahim Shahid is the biggest public school in the Dasht Barchi region. The explosions in this school also took place when the students were leaving school. It was said that 126 people were killed and 72 others were injured.
Also, on May 8, 2021, two consecutive explosions occurred in front of Seyed al-Shohada High School in the west of Kabul, in which nearly 100 female students were killed and around 200 others were injured.
It should be remembered that the statistics in this report are based on the figures provided by official and popular institutions and the real and unrecorded figures may be more than this. It has happened in some cases that the injured in an accident died long after the explosion and thus the number of casualties has changed.
No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the bloody attack on Kaj Educational Training Center. But before this, ISIS repeatedly claimed responsibility for such attacks. It should be mentioned that Kabul also witnessed a powerful explosion at the entrance gate of Wazir Akbar Khan Mosque in the 10th district of Kabul around 2:00 a.m. on Friday, September 23. The Taliban Officials said that seven people died and 41 others were injured as a result of this explosion.
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Source: Hasht-e Subh Daily