Sune Engel Rasmussen in Khost
Thursday 11 December 2014 17.14 GMT
A teenage suicide bomber has killed a German citizen in an attack on a high school in Kabul.
The bomber detonated explosives hidden in his underwear as a crowd of spectators attended a performance of a drama condemning suicide attacks.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at a French cultural centre located on the grounds of Istiqlal high school in the centre of the Afghan capital.
A 15-year-old eyewitness, who declined to give his name while searching for his family outside the high school grounds, said the explosion had caused a big fire in the theatre hall. After the explosion, blood and body parts were strewn on the floor. “It was very scary,” he said.
According to Kabul’s police chief, Abdul Rahman Rahimi, footage from the theatre hall showed the bomber to be about 16 years old. He said that aside from one fatality, 20 people were wounded in the blast. According to the Ministry of Interior, at least seven of them were admitted to hospital.
In a statement, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius sent his condolences to the families of the victims, and announced that the French embassy in Kabul was working alongside the Afghan authorities to assist the injured.
Earlier on Thursday, another suicide attacker targeted a bus carrying Afghan national army troops in a Kabul suburb, killing at least six soldiers.
The bombings come after a spate of attacks in the Afghan capital, which has seen militants target foreign NGO guest houses, Afghan and US troops, and a British embassy vehicle. The dramatic surge in violence has prompted criticism of Kabul’s security forces. It is now up to Rahimi, as newly appointed police chief, to deal with that criticism, after his predecessor was sacked barely two weeks ago.
The upswing in violence has elicited concerns that the Afghan security forces may not be able to secure the capital, as the majority of international troops prepare to withdraw at the end of the year.
Over the weekend, the Afghan government’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said that a drawdown from 150,000 to 12,000 international troops in just two years was too abrupt. Meanwhile, the US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, stressed during a visit to Kabul that the increased violence was proof that “the international community must not waver in its support for a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan”.