Mortar blast at Afghan religious school kills 9 students

Mortar blast at Afghan religious school kills 9 students
2 min read
A mortar blast has killed nine children in northern Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is under conflict [Getty]

A mortar bomb blast inside a religious school in northern Afghanistan Thursday killed at least nine students, police said.

"As per initial investigation, the explosion was caused by a mortar that had somehow been carried inside the madrassa," police spokesman Khalil Asir told AFP, adding many of the dead were aged under 18.

Six students were wounded in the explosion in the Ishkamish district of Takhar province.

Provincial governor spokesman Jawad Hejri confirmed the incident and the toll.

It comes after two deadly blasts this month targeted separate mosques in Kabul.

On Friday, four people were killed when explosives detonated at a mosque in the capital during weekly prayers.

A week earlier a blast at a mosque in the heavily fortified Green Zone killed two people, including a prominent imam.

The latest bloodshed comes as the Taliban and government are preparing to launch much-delayed peace talks aimed at ending the nearly two-decade old conflict in the impoverished country.

Violence had dropped across much of Afghanistan since the Taliban announced a three-day ceasefire on May 24 to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday, but officials have accused the insurgents of stepping up attacks in recent days.

"In the past one week, the Taliban carried out 222 attacks against the Afghan security forces, resulting in the death and injury of 422" personnel, interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said at a press conference.

He also accused the Taliban of targeting religious scholars in a bid to put "psychological pressure" on the Afghan government.

Bomb attacks on Kabul mosques that killed two prayer leaders this month were the work of the insurgents, Arian claimed.

"This has been the goal of the Taliban to target religious scholars, especially in the past two weeks," Arian said, accusing the militants of being an "umbrella group for other terrorist networks".

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