At least 16 people were killed and 24 injured in an explosion at a madrassa in the northern Afghan city of Aibak on Wednesday. The news agency AFP reported the information citing a doctor at a local hospital.
Dozens of explosions and attacks have targeted civilians since the Taliban returned to power in August last year. Local affiliates of the Islamic State (IS) group have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks.
A doctor in Aibak, about 200 kilometers north of the capital Kabul, said most of the dead were young. “They are all children and ordinary people,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
A provincial official confirmed the explosion at the Al Jihad madrasa, but could not provide casualty figures.
The Taliban often downplays casualty figures. They said 10 students died and many were injured.
“Our intelligence and security forces are working swiftly to identify the perpetrators of this unforgivable crime and bring them to justice for their actions,” Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafay Takor said on Twitter.
Photos and videos circulating on social media showed Taliban fighters picking their way through corpses strewn across the floor of a building. However, AFP could not verify whether the video was of Wednesday’s attack.
Aibak is a small but ancient provincial capital famous as a caravan stopover post for traders in the fourth and fifth centuries. It was also once an important Buddhist center.
Afghanistan has had weeks of lulls in major explosions targeting civilians, although isolated attacks have killed several Taliban fighters.
In September, at least 54 people, including 51 girls and young women, were killed in a suicide bombing at an experimental facility in Kabul. At that time, hundreds of students sat for the practice test for university admission
No group claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Taliban later blamed Islamic State and said it had killed several leaders.
Three bomb blasts near schools in Afghanistan killed at least 85 people, most of them women, and injured nearly 300 in May last year before the Taliban returned to power.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but a year ago IS claimed 24 people were killed in a suicide attack on an educational center in the area.