July 01, 2019

50 Afghan children injured as car bomb blast sends glass flying into schools

Girls sit for lessons on a stairwell inside a school building in Afghanistan, where education is increasingly under attack

Photo credit: HRW

The government asked all sides in the conflict to "guarantee the safety of students, teachers, education workers and schools".

More than 50 Afghan schoolchildren are among 105 people who were injured in a massive car bomb attack by the Taliban today. 

Most are in a stable condition after two nearby schools were hit by flying glass from the explosion in the capital Kabul, the education ministry said.

"These children were in the classrooms when the blast shattered the glass windows. All 51 injured children were rushed out of their schools," said Nooria Nazhat, a ministry spokeswoman.

The government asked "all sides involved in fighting to guarantee the safety of students, teachers, education workers and schools".

Social media images taken at a hospital showed wounded children in school uniforms and still holding their text books as they arrived for treatment, according to the AFP news agency.

The rush-hour blast was followed by gunmen storming a building and triggering a gun battle with special forces which lasted several hours. 

The five terrorists killed six people and injured 105 before they were killed themselves.

"We were sitting inside the office when the world turned upside down on us," said Zaher Usman, an employee at a branch of the culture ministry, which stands 150 metres (yards) from the explosion. "When I opened my eyes, the office was filled with smoke and dust and everything was broken - my colleagues were screaming."

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came just two days after they began a seventh round of talks with the United States in Qatar ahead of Afghanistan's September presidential election.

The ongoing conflict in Afghanistan left more than 1,000 schools closed at the end of 2018 - denying education to 500,000 children. Attacks on schools tripled between 2017 and 2018 - from 68 to 192.

“Education is under fire in Afghanistan,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore at the third International Safe Schools conference in May. “The senseless attacks on schools; the killing, injury and abduction of teachers; and the threats against education are destroying the hopes and dreams of an entire generation of children.”

Theirworld has been campaigning for several years for the right of all children to be get a safe, quality education - free from fear of conflict and violence. But over 500 million school-age children and adolescents live in countries where schools face threats - including attacks, violence, military occupation and natural disasters. 

Theirworld's report Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis projects that without urgent action that will rise by 2030 to over 620 million young people - almost one in three.

More countries are taking action to protect children and teachers from attacks on schools. Ninety nations have now signed up to the Safe Schools Declaration - a commitment to safeguard education from violence - and many are clamping down on the military use of schools.

Report

Safe Schools: The Hidden Crisis (December 2018)

A framework for action to deliver Safe, Non-violent, Inclusive and Effective Learning Environments

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