One of the few foreign policies to be continued from former President Donald Trump by President Joe Biden is the intent to withdraw all U.S. military forces from Afghanistan, a process that is now actually underway and is scheduled to be complete by September.
Unfortunately, the Taliban and other extremist groups seem equally intent on making that withdrawal as painful and bloody as possible, as evidenced by a horrific car bomb attack on a school in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul on Saturday that left dozens dead and scores more wounded, The Hill reported.
Death and injury toll climbs
Initial reports from Afghan officials suggested that at least two dozen people had died and at least 50 more were wounded after a vehicle packed with explosives exploded in front of the Syed Al-Shahda school in an area of Kabul predominately populated by minority Shiite Muslims.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly blast, and while the Afghan government was quick to point a finger at the Taliban, the Taliban denied any involvement in the attack and instead shifted the blame to the Islamic State group that still maintains a presence in the war-torn nation.
A follow-up report Sunday by Reuters revealed that the confirmed death toll had risen to 68 with at least 165 others being treated for injuries in local hospitals. That toll could rise in the coming days as there is still an unknown number of missing people who could be found as search teams sift through the rubble.
Sadly, the vast majority of those killed and wounded were girls that were attending the school and had just been released to return home when the attack happened.
Further information from officials and eyewitnesses revealed that the attack consisted of an initial car bomb explosion followed by at least two other explosions timed to coincide with the rush of people exiting the building.
Ethnic minority sect targeted?
As noted, the Afghan government blamed the Taliban, while the Taliban, in turn, blamed the Islamic State group — and according to the Associated Press, there is some early evidence to support the Taliban’s claim that the Islamic State is responsible for the horrific atrocity.
The explosion at the school occurred in a neighborhood known as Dasht-e-Barchi which, as previously noted, is predominately populated by Shiite Muslims, specifically an ethnic minority known as the Hazara who have been deliberately targeted with attacks and bombings in recent years by the militant Sunni Islamic State group.
Since 2018, other schools and tutoring centers have been hit with fatal attacks, and about a year ago, a maternity hospital was purposely targeted with an attack that left 24 people dead, most of them infants and pregnant women.
Meanwhile, as the blame game continues for the recent attack, residents of the area have ultimately determined that it is the fault of the Afghan government and its failure to keep them safe from violent militants and terror organizations.
As such, the Hazara are now forming their own citizen protection groups to fill in the gaps where the government has failed. While pledging cooperation with the Afghan government, while also asking for assistance and weapons, the group intends to provide security for their own schools, mosques, and markets against potential future attacks aimed against them.