World Funerals begin as Afghan blast toll rises to 50
Insider attacks against Afghan army surged this year: Report
Attacks by Taliban and from infiltrators surged by 37 and 82 percent, respectively, in first quarter, US watchdog says.In a quarterly report published on Friday, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found that attacks on Afghan security forces, mainly by the Taliban rebel group, surged 37 percent over the January-March period from a year earlier.
Funerals have begun for victims of a series of blasts near a secondary school in Kabul on Saturday, now known to have killed more than 50 people.
The explosions took place as students were leaving the building. Most of the victims were girls, officials said.
No-one has admitted carrying out the attack in Dasht-e-Barchi - an area often hit by Sunni Islamist militants.
Afghan government officials blamed Taliban militants for the attack, but the group denied any involvement.
Nobel Prize winner and activist Malala Yousafzai - who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 - posted about the "horrendous attack" on Twitter.
Israel to resume stampede funerals after Sabbath pause
Israel was preparing Saturday to bury more victims of a stampede that killed at least 45 people at a Jewish pilgrimage site, one of the nation's worst peacetime disasters. Most of the victims were ultra-Orthodox Jews and funerals were expected to be held after sunset which ends the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest. Some funerals had already taken place on Friday, just hours after the overnight disaster. Tens of thousands of people had thronged to Mount Meron and the reputed tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai to mark the Lag BaOmer holiday and commemorate the second-century Talmudic sage's death.
"My heart is with the Kabul school victims' families," she wrote.
The exact target for Saturday's bloodshed is unclear. The blasts come against a backdrop of rising violence as the US looks to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by 11 September.
What happened on Saturday?
The explosions are believed to have been caused by a car bomb and two improvised explosive devices planted in the area.
One survivor, Zahra, told reporters she was leaving the school as the blasts took place.
"My classmate died. A few minutes later there was another explosion, and then another. Everyone was screaming and there was blood everywhere," she said.
Several witnesses described hearing three separate explosions, while one woman, Reza, told AFP news agency she had seen "many bloodied bodies in dust and smoke".
No limit at funerals in England from 17 May
The government is preparing to remove the 30-person legal limit a month earlier than planned. This means any number of mourners will be able to gather so long as they can safely socially distance in the venue.Weddings will be limited to 30 from 17 May, and an unlimited number from June.The limit for weddings in England is currently 15 people.During the pandemic, many have been forced to watch funerals from home over live-streams, making grieving harder. And those able to attend have had to do without handshakes and hugs.
Video: Blasts targeting Afghan school in Kabul kill 40, injures dozens (Reuters)
"I saw a woman checking the bodies and calling for her daughter," Reza said. "She then found her daughter's bloodstained purse after which she fainted and fell to the ground."
More than 100 people were injured in the attack. Reports from Kabul say the city was busy with shoppers ahead of this year's celebrations for Eid al-Fitr next week.
Najiba Arian, ministry of education spokeswoman, told Reuters news agency the government-run school was open to boys and girls. Most of the those hurt were girls, who study in the second of three sessions, according to Ms Arian.
What's the context?
Afghanistan is seeing increasing violence as the US and Nato prepare to pull out all remaining forces from the country on 11 September.
On Saturday the US state department condemned "the barbarous attack".
Afghanistan Ambassador Fears for Women Under Taliban as U.S. Troops Leave
Women's rights advocates have criticized the United States' plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan without securing assurances from the Taliban about protections for women.Roya Rahmani, the Afghan ambassador to the U.S., said she is worried that violence in the country will "continue or even possibly escalate," which she said is likely to have a direct impact on Afghan women.
"We call for an immediate end to violence and the senseless targeting of innocent civilians," it said.
The European Union's mission in Afghanistan said on Twitter that "targeting primarily students in a girls' school, makes this an attack on the future of Afghanistan".
The neighbourhood in western Kabul where the blasts occurred is home to many from the Hazara minority community, who are of Mongolian and Central Asian descent and are mainly Shia Muslims.
Almost exactly a year ago,leaving 24 women, children and babies dead.
Heather Barr, who works for Human Rights Watch, tweeted a series of videos and photos of what she said was the school in Kabul - including. Ms Barr said the group had filmed a documentary there in 2017.
Analysis by Secunder Kermani, BBC Afghanistan correspondent
So many places in Afghanistan have endured so much pain, but the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood in Kabul has suffered horrendously.
The neighbourhood is populated by members of Afghanistan's Hazara ethnic minority. As followers of Shia Islam, the Islamic State group (IS) views them as heretics, and has carried out a vicious campaign, attacking the softest of targets.
Dozens have been killed in bombings at sports halls, cultural centres, and places of education in particular.
Last year, and in 2018, IS suicide bombers struck tuition centres in the area killing more than 70 people. IS is not part of the peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government, which in any case are currently stalled.
As of yet, there's been no claim for the attack on Saturday. However, IS continues to carry out assassinations and bombings in Kabul and the city of Jalalabad, despite having recently lost much of the territory it once controlled in the east of the country.
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