17 people have been killed and 26 injured after a bomb blast hit a religious school in northern Afghanistan. The blast took place in the city of Aybak in Samangan province, reportedly as people were leaving prayers. The majority of those killed are believed to be children aged nine to 15, a source in Samangan told the BBC.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the death toll could increase. A doctor at the local hospital said most of the victims were students at the school. Interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafee Takkur said the Taliban’s security forces were investigating the attack, and vowed to “identify the perpetrators and punish them for their actions”.
The former president of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, said the explosion was a “crime against humanity” in a tweet, and expressed his sympathy to the families of the victims. Aybak is a historical city that came to prominence as a trading hub and a centre for Buddhists in the 4th and 5th Centuries. It sits around 200 km (130 miles) north of the capital Kabul.