Kabul students pick through debris after deadly blast

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Kabul students picked through the debris of shattered schools on Tuesday looking for books, backpacks and other possessions, a day after a massive bomb ripped through the Afghan capital.

Five schools were damaged in Monday’s attack which targeted a defense ministry building, but also shredded a mosque and a TV station.

At least six people were killed in the Taliban attack, including one child and two Special Forces soldiers, the interior ministry said.

The bombing -- and an ensuing shootout -- wounded dozens of people including 50 children, most of whom were hurt by flying glass.

“The schools in the area have been badly damaged,” said local resident Ahmad Seyar. “It is a disaster.”

At one private high school in the middle-class part of town near the city center, children were allowed to return to try to retrieve whatever they could from the rubble-filled building.

One girl showed AFP cuts on her arm from glass as the school windows shattered from the force of the blast.

Some social media images purportedly taken at a hospital showed wounded, stunned children in school uniforms, still clutching books as they arrived for treatment.

Save the Children branded the attack “utterly deplorable”, warning that “children’s smaller bodies sustain more serious injuries than adults” and that the trauma of such attacks can stay with them for years.

Monday’s bombing was followed by Taliban gunmen storming a nearby building, trigging a gun battle with Special Forces.

Atiqullah, a resident from a nearby apartment building, said the bomb had broken all the windows in his home. “The blast was huge,” he told AFP.

“Two of my family members were slightly injured. Our home is badly damaged.” Another resident, Hamidullah, said “dust, dirt, blood and human bodies were everywhere.”

Kabul had enjoyed something of a lull in violence over the winter, but in recent months it has seen a string of sophisticated attacks, including one against an American non-governmental group in May.

The US and the Taliban are currently holding peace talks to try to forge a deal that would end America’s longest war, but even as the two sides meet, violence continues across Afghanistan.