The Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan has claimed responsibility for a devastating suicide bombing that killed dozens of students in Kabul on Wednesday.
ISIS identified the attacker as “the martyrdom-seeking brother Abdul Raouf al-Khorasani,” in a posting to its Amaq news agency Thursday.
The appellation “al-Khorasani” refers to Khorasan Province, the ancient name of an area encompassing parts of Iran and Afghanistan. The ISIS branch in Afghanistan calls itself Islamic State in Khorasan Province.
Wednesday’s suicide blast struck an educational center in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in the western part of the capital. A total of 34 people were killed, mostly teenage students who were preparing for college entrance exams. Another 57 students were wounded, The Associated Press reported, citing a spokesman for the Afghan health ministry.
Earlier estimates had put the number of dead at 48 but were revised down after conflicting reports from local hospitals were updated. (RELATED: Suicide Bombing Kills Dozens At Kabul School As Afghanistan Bloodletting Continues)
ISIS also claimed responsibility for a separate attack in Kabul early Thursday when gunmen stormed a government compound and engaged Afghan security forces in a firefight. The group said on Amaq that militants had killed or wounded more than 200 people, but government officials disputed that claim, saying the gunmen were pinned down in a building across the street and that there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The attacks in Kabul capped a week-long spasm of violence across Afghanistan that left hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians dead. With the exception of Wednesday’s suicide bombing in Kabul, the attacks were Taliban assaults against either fortified military positions or major urban centers, indicating the insurgency is gaining confidence as the summer fighting season progresses.
The government is also contending with a growing Islamic State affiliate that has managed to carry out devastating attacks in Kabul and other major urban areas. This year, Khorasan Province militants have killed hundreds of people in Kabul alone, usually by attacking soft targets including mosques, schools and voter registration centers. (RELATED: ISIS Suicide Bombing Kills At Least 52 In Afghan Capital)
Kabul’s Shiite population has been hit particularly hard by Islamic State terror, suffering 13 attacks in the past two years alone, according to The AP.
A United Nations report released Monday estimated that there are between 3,500 and 4,500 Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan.
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