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The French school in Kabul  was quickly sealed off after the suicide attack
The French school in Kabul was quickly sealed off after the suicide attack

A suicide bomber has attacked a French-run school in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing several people during a show, French officials say.

At least 15 people were injured in the attack on the Istiqlal school, home to the French Cultural Centre.

A witness told the BBC the attacker detonated the bomb among the audience.

Earlier, at least six Afghan soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber on the outskirts of Kabul – the latest in a string of attacks by the Taliban.

The BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Kabul says it appears the Taliban is trying to undermine confidence in the new government and the security forces as US and Nato combat troops prepare to leave Afghanistan.

Thursday’s explosion at the French school occurred during the performance of play of called Heartbeat: Silence After the Explosion – a condemnation of suicide attacks.

“I firmly condemn this terrorist act which caused the death of several people and left many injured. There were no French victims,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement.

He described the attack as a “barbaric act” and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Mr Fabius said crisis units had been set up in Kabul and France to investigate the incident.

President Francois Hollande also condemned the attack.

“By targeting this place of dialogue, the terrorists are attacking culture and creativity,” he said in a statement.

Speaking earlier, acting Afghan interior minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi would only confirm that one person had been killed – a German national. German officials said they were investigating the report.

Aftermath

Kabul’s new police chief, Abdul Rahman Rahimi, told reporters that the suicide bomber was a teenager.

A witness who said he was no more than 5m (49ft) from the explosion, said the blast came about 20 minutes into the performance.

About 500 people were in the auditorium at the time and security was very tight, he added.

Another witness, Samira Sadat, told the BBC that the blast initially seemed like part of the performance. As she was leaving the building, she said she passed a man with severe facial injuries on the ground.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, quoted by Reuters, said the event was targeted because it was staged “to insult Islamic values and spread propaganda about our jihad operations, especially on suicide attacks”.

Footage on Afghan television showed the aftermath of the explosion with injured people in the street outside.

The Taliban have recently stepped up attacks as most foreign combat troops prepare to leave the country later this month.

The school – one of the most prestigious in Afghanistan – was inaugurated in 1974 with more than 2,000 students.

It is in the heart of Kabul, close to the presidential palace and the foreign ministry.

The attached French Cultural Centre was forced to close between 1983 and 2002 when Afghanistan was engulfed by conflict, but it reopened in 2003 and was revamped in 2010.

Last month, Kabul’s police chief resigned following a surge in attacks by Afghan militants on foreigners in the city.

President Ashraf Ghani, who took power in September, has vowed to bring peace after decades of conflict.

BBC

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