On Friday 30 September 2022, a suicide bombing targeting the Kaaj Educational Centre, killed 53 students and wounded 110 (as reported by the UN). It happened when around 300 recent high school graduates were sitting for practice exams for university entry. The Education Centre is in the West Kabul neighbourhood of Dashti Barchi, where most of the residents are Hazara, and where bombings of a number of schools have occurred in the past two years.
I found out about the bombing tragedy from R shortly after she herself heard of it on that Friday morning.
“I know that today you girls of Kors Kaaj were martyred. Tomorrow it may be our turn by those who commit suicide every day. I don't know how many more souls are waiting, even the earth is tired of burying so many people.”
Days later, on the 4 October, R, who is studying at a university in Kabul, told me, “in addition to the previous attack on the girls, another heartbreaking incident that scratched our hearts was of the girls who were in the hostel of Kabul University. We found out that all of them got food poisoning at once and their condition is very bad. Also, yesterday, most of the women students were locked in at Kabul University until 2:30 pm just because they wanted to demonstrate against these ignorant people and enemies of education and science.”
In the days after the attack, women went out to protest in the streets of Kabul and other provinces such as Herat and Bamyan, receiving violent reactions from the Taliban. I later read on Al Jazeera media that for the first time, men had joined women protesting in Balkh.
R and I kept our communications going throughout that week. A friend of hers had told her that at Takhar University, “it was the girls' biometrics day for their entrance exam and when they went there, most of the girls were beaten by the Taliban, and similar incidents may have happened in every other corner of Afghanistan.”
Takhar's Biometric Kankur Day. A short video, although it does not show the Taliban beating, it is clear what is happening by seeing the Taliban with batons in their hands.
By the 8 October, R wrote, “I am better these last few days, although such heartbreaking events are unforgettable, but I have to keep my thoughts away and I am busy with university lessons.”
Images and video: sent to me by R