Suicide bomber targets Shiite students in Kabul, killing 25

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber targeted students preparing for university exams in a Shiite neighborhood of Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 25 young men and women studying together in an attack that was blamed on the Islamic State group.

Najib Danish, spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said at least 35 people were also wounded in the attack that struck a private building in the Shiite Dasht-i Barcha area of Kabul. He feared the casualty toll could rise further.

The explosion initially set off gunfire from Afghan guards in the area, leading to assumptions that there were more attackers involved, but officials later said all indications were that there was only one bomber.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Jawad Ghawari, a member of the city’s Shiite clerical council, blamed the Islamic State group, which has carried similar attacks in the past, hitting mosques, schools and cultural centers.

In the past two years, Ghawari said there were at least 13 attacks on the Shiite community in Kabul alone.

Abdul Hossain Hossainzada, a Shiite community leader in the neighborhood in western Kabul, said the bomber apparently targeted the course, which had young men and women studying together.

Both the resurgent Taliban and the IS affiliate in Afghanistan target Shiites, considering them to be heretics. Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, denied any involvement by the group in the Kabul attack.

Wednesday’s assault comes amid a particularly bloody week in Afghanistan. A Taliban assault on two adjacent checkpoints in northern Afghanistan late on Tuesday night killed at least 30 soldiers and policemen, officials said.

The attack took place in northern Baghlan province, in the Baghlan-I Markazi district, said Mohammad Safdar Mohseni, the head of the provincial council.

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