KABUL – A teenaged suicide bomber targeted a packed auditorium at a French-run high school in Afghanistan’s capital on Thursday, killing at least one person, hours after another attack left six Afghan soldiers dead on the outskirts of Kabul, officials said.
The Afghan capital has been hit by a series of bombings and armed attacks this year as most foreign combat troops prepare to withdraw at the end of the month.
Deputy Interior Minister General Ayoub Salangi said the suspected school bomber appeared to have been about 17 years old and detonated his explosive vest inside the venue, killing one person and wounding 16 attending an early evening performance.
The person who died appeared to be a foreign man, Salangi said, but he could not immediately confirm his identity or nationality.
The Lycee Esteqlal was heavily guarded during the event in the auditorium, said Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi, who added that the bomber may have hidden explosives in his underwear to pass through security.
View galleryThe wreckage of a car is removed from the site of a …
The wreckage of a car is removed from the site of a suicide attack in Kabul December 11, 2014. REUTE …
He said the bomber detonated explosives at the top of the auditorium’s stairs, which may have prevented higher casualties. The body of the bomber was shredded, but police were able to identify him as a teenager because his head was found intact.
Taliban militants have stepped up a campaign of violence this year to take advantage of uncertainty and weakness besetting Afghanistan’s security forces as they prepare to take over the war on the insurgency, now in its 13th year.
The Lycée Esteqlal is one of Kabul’s oldest and highly respected high schools with alumni including one of the country’s most famous businessmen, media mogul Saad Mohseni.
The school, which also houses the French Cultural Centre, is guarded by the Afghan army. Its security was considered sufficiently strong to host a debate between candidates during the presidential election earlier this year.
Earlier on Thursday, a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying Afghan army personnel, killing six soldiers and wounding 11, the Defence Ministry said, ending a near two-week lull in attacks in the capital.
Dawlat Waziri, deputy spokesman for the Afghan Defence Ministry, said a bomber on foot targeted the bus in the Tarakhil area of eastern Kabul early in the morning when the army personnel were on their way to work.
“Unfortunately, we lost six soldiers and 11 others were wounded in the suicide attack,” said Waziri.
Five Afghan school children were also reported killed in a foreign forces air strike in northern Parwan province, officials said, but the international military coalition said those killed were insurgents.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed an air strike in the area, but said five insurgents were killed.
Civilian casualties caused by air strikes have been one of the most contentious issues of the war, although there are often conflicting claims.
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