A massive truck bomb exploded close to a school in the heart of Ghazni city in Afghanistan last Sunday, causing one of the highest child casualties reported in a single day. The explosion caused more than 100 casualties, a majority of them children. The target though, as claimed by the Taliban, was a National Directorate of Security facility close by.

“The bomb exploded around 8.30 a.m. close to Afghan Rahmati School… a private institution for primary kids, and as a result most of the victims were below 11,” Muhib-ur-Rahman Ansar, the provincial director of education from the Ministry of Education, told this correspondent. Mr. Ansar was among the first few to reach the site of the attack to help with rescue operations. “There was so much blood, a few woman teachers were also wounded. The scenes were graphic. I have a few photos but I can’t even think of sharing them,” a discomposed Mr. Ansar said.

Total casualties have crossed 120, which include 59 children, an official from the Ghazni Public Health Directorate confirmed, adding that at least six people died, including two children. “The children have been admitted to hospital, many with severe injuries. Doctors tell us they are treating serious shrapnel wounds,” Mariam Atahi, communications manager at Save The Children in Afghanistan, said.

Peace talks

The deadly attack came on a day when Afghan representatives gathered in Doha for a rare intra-Afghan meeting with leaders of the Taliban to negotiate peace in the country. Incidentally, one of the aspects discussed at the meeting on Tuesday, two days after the attack in Ghazni, was an assurance of reducing civilian casualties. In a statement issued alongside Afghan representatives, the Taliban agreed to not attack schools, universities, mosques and markets, as well as residential areas.

The Taliban has already been in several rounds of talks with the U.S. seeking an end to the war. At the same time, they have escalated attacks in several parts of the country, with exceeding civilian casualties. A similar attack on a defence facility in Kabul a week ago also hit a school nearby, causing more than 100 casualties, half of them students.

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