least 10 people have been killed after a bomb blast hit a religious school in northern Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban has said.
The blast took place in Aybak in the Samangan province and left many more injured, a spokesperson for the interior ministry told the BBC.
But the death toll remains uncertain, and two provincial officials told the BBC that 17 people died in the blast.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
blast is said to have occurred as people were leaving congregational prayers, and a doctor at the local hospital said most of the victims were students at the school.
“All of them are children and ordinary people,” one doctor was quoted by AFP as saying.
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.
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.
Afghanistan has been rocked by dozens of blasts since the Taliban seized power last year, mostly claimed by the local offshoot of the Islamic State group, known as Islamic State – Khorasan Province (ISIS-K).
The group is the most extreme of the militant groups in Afghanistan and has targeted religious minorities – such as Hazaras – who the Taliban have pledged to protect. However, Human Rights Watch recently observed that “Taliban authorities have done little to protect these communities from suicide bombings and other unlawful attacks”.
In September, at least 54 people – including 51 girls and young women – were killed after a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the capital city of Kabul. The attacker had targeted a hall where hundreds of students were sitting a test for university admission.
Taliban leaders later blamed ISIS-K for the attack, though the group itself did not take responsibility.