Bombings Kill Dozens of Afghan Civilians, With Schoolgirls Among the Targets

May 10, 2021James R. Webb
Hazara Civilian Attacks

US soldier assigned to the 10th Mountain Division surveys the back of a CH-47 Chinook during a flight over Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 3, 2020. US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeffery J. Harris/ Released.

Just days before a cease-fire planned around the Islamic Eid al-Fitr holiday is set to occur, a series of bombings around Afghanistan claimed the lives of dozens of Afghan civilians, including many women and children. According to The Wall Street Journal, Saturday’s attack specifically targeted a Hazara school just as girls finished with classes for the day.

The first attack, according to The Daily Mail, occurred around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, in the Dasht-e Barchi neighborhood of Kabul. It targeted a school in the predominantly Shiite Hazara part of the city, which was just releasing students for the day. A series of explosions detonated outside the school, taking the lives of at least 85 people, while wounding at least another 147.

hazara civilian attack
A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., takes off April 27, 2021, at al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. US Air Force C-17s and other mobility aircraft around the US Air Forces Central theater are assisting with the safe and orderly drawdown operations from Afghanistan. US Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner, courtesy of DVIDS.

“As Afghanistan’s Shia minority, the Hazara people have long been the target of sectarian attacks. This attack is a reminder that there are many terrorist and insurgent groups inside Afghanistan who do not want peace,” Luke Coffey, director of the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

The school itself hosts both male and female students, who attend in gender-specific shifts. On Saturday, however, only female students were in attendance. 

According to The Wall Street Journal, several eyewitnesses described a scene where three separate blasts targeted the students as they were exiting the school for the day. The first blast was initiated by a minivan, with the second and third blasts occurring roughly 10 minutes after the first in an apparent attempt to target those responding to calls for aid.

“I rushed to the scene (after the blasts) and found myself in the middle of bodies, their hands and heads cut off and bones smashed,” said local resident Mohammad Taqi, according to the Daily Mail; his own two daughters escaped the attack. “All of them were girls. Their bodies piled on top of each other.”

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah condemned the attack against the school, placing blame on the Islamic State group, or ISIS, which is also known as Daesh. No group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack, and according to the Daily Mail, the Taliban said they have not carried out attacks in Kabul since signing the Doha Agreement in February of 2020.

According to The Wall Street Journal, past attacks targeting Afghanistan’s Hazara community have been claimed by the Afghan Islamic State group affiliate. That group considers Shiites to be “heretics” who have rejected Islam. The Taliban previously oppressed the Hazara community while they had control in the 1990s but now claim to tolerate the Shiite minority.

Kabul Hazara attack Afghan civilians killed
Afghan National Army trainees stand in formation during a visit by Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Dr. Yasin Zia and Resolute Support Commander Gen. Scott Miller in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 3, 2020. US Army Reserve photo by Spc. Jeffery J. Harris/Released.

The attacks against the civilian population, the Hazara in particular, are likely intended to spark tensions between the civilian population and the Afghan government. According to The Wall Street Journal, following Saturday’s attack on the Hazara schoolchildren, residents turned their anger toward police responding to the scene and attacked them. Many Hazara criticize the central government for failing to protect them from violence.

“Such attacks continue to alienate the Hazara minority from the government,” Ibraheem Bahiss, an analyst focusing on Afghan affairs, told The Wall Street Journal.

hazara attack Kabul Afghan civilians killed
Ethnic Hazara people in Kabul in 2021 on the anniversary of the death of Abdul Ali Mazari, a Hazara politician who was killed by the Taliban. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/public domain.

In the last year, the Islamic State group executed a number of attacks against the Hazaras in Kabul. This includes an attack on a maternity clinic in May 2020 that claimed the lives of at least 16; on an educational center in October of 2020, killing at least 24; and on Kabul University in November, killing at least 22 people. 

According to the Daily Mail, an additional attack occurred Monday in Zabul province. A bomb went off next to a bus carrying civilians, killing at least 11 and wounding 28.

“It is important to understand that horrific violence against civilians has been common in Afghanistan throughout the last 40 years of war, even when the United States had a large military footprint in the country and actively engaged in prosecuting the conflict,” Will Ruger, vice president for research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute, told Coffee or Die Magazine.

“So we shouldn’t connect these attacks too tightly to the withdrawal,” Ruger said. “But it does suggest that Afghanistan is going to continue to be messy for some time until the local balance of power is sorted out and one side or both conclude it is better to deal diplomatically than to continue fighting.”

Read Next: US May Withdraw From Afghanistan by July as Violence Sweeps the Country

James R. Webb
James R. Webb

James Webb served as a US Marine infantryman from 2005 to 2010, completing a combat tour in Iraq. He’s worked as a freelance writer and photojournalist covering US troops in Afghanistan, and Webb spent more than two years in the US Senate as a military legislative assistant and as the personal representative of a member on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, with his daughter, center right, reportedly named Ju Ae, review the honor guard during their visit to the navy headquarter in North Korea
North Korea Launches Missile Toward Sea After US Flies Bomber During Drills

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the launch occurred Wednesday but gave no further details, such as how far the missile flew.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved