least 17 people have been killed and 26 injured after a bomb blast hit a religious school in northern Afghanistan. The majority of those killed are believed to be children aged nine to 15, a Samangan official told the BBC. 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”.
blast took place in the city of Aybak in Samangan province, reportedly as people were leaving prayers. 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.
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”.