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Suicide bomber attacks French school in Afghanistan

‏People attempt to help an injured man outside the Lycée Esteqlal in Kabul following a suicide bomb attack
‏People attempt to help an injured man outside the Lycée Esteqlal in Kabul following a suicide bomb attack @aishailyad

A teenage suicide bomber detonated explosives killing several and wounding 15 others during an event at a French-run high school in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Thursday, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

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General Ayoub Salangi said the suspected bomber was about 16 years old and detonated his explosive vest inside the Lycée Esteqlal, where the French Cultural Centre was hosting a theatre performance at the time.

He said at least one person, a German national, had been killed in the attack.

The French Foreign Ministry said there were several dead following the explosion. None of them were French citizens, it said in a statement.

A witness told FRANCE 24 that he had seen dozens of wounded, as well as dismembered bodies.

“There was a lot of dust and smoke. The roof had collapsed, “said Shafigh Shargh, a professor at the University of Kabul and one of around 300 to 400 people who had gathered at the school for the performance.

“After a few minutes, the room went dark and we saw a huge explosion,” he said “We were all thrown to the ground.”

The blast came during the performance of a new play called “Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion”, a condemnation of suicide attacks.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the bomber targeted the event because it was staged “to insult Islamic values and spread propaganda about our jihad operations, especially on suicide attacks”.

Amid the confusion immediately following the blast, one person could be heard saying, “It’s all part of the show,” in a video posted on YouTube purporting to be of the attack.

Terrorists ‘targeting culture and creativity’

The Lycée Esteqlal is one of Kabul’s oldest and highly respected high schools with alumni including one of the country’s most famous businessmen, media mogul Saad Mohseni.

The school, which also houses the French Cultural Centre, is guarded by the Afghan army. Its security was considered sufficiently strong to host a debate between candidates during the presidential election earlier this year.

Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said that the bomber may have hidden explosives in his underwear to pass through security at the heavily guarded event in the school’s auditorium.

He said the bomber detonated explosives at the top of the auditorium’s stairs, which may have prevented higher casualties. The body of the bomber was shredded, but police were able to identify him as a teenager because his head was found intact.

The blast came moments after another suicide bomber killed six Afghan soldiers in an attack on a military minibus in Kabul.

Another 10 people were wounded, said Farid Afzali, the chief of criminal investigation for Kabul police.

The Afghan capital has been hit by a series of bombings and armed attacks this year as most foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw at the end of the month.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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