Afghan students demonstrate in Herat after classroom attack that left dozens dead

On Sunday, more than 100 Afghan students gathered in the western city of Herat to protest a suicide explosion in a Kabul classroom that killed scores of pupils as they studied for examinations.

An assailant blew himself up in the women’s part of a gender-segregated study hall in Kabul’s Dasht-e-Barchi area, a historically persecuted Hazara Shi’ite Muslim enclave.

Hundreds of students were taking university entrance exams when at least 35 were murdered and 82 were injured, with the majority of the casualties being girls and young women, according to the United Nations.

On Sunday, more than 100 women, predominantly Hazaras, gathered in Herat to protest the attack, one of the worst in recent years against the minority.

Protesters marched from Herat University to the provincial governorship, chanting, “Education is our right, genocide is a crime.”

They were stopped from entering the governorate by heavily armed Taliban militants.

Since the Taliban’s return to power, women’s rights marches have been the site of heated skirmishes with police, with activists jailed and demonstrations disrupted by aerial fire.

Women activists have continued to organise rare rallies, especially in Kabul, against the Taliban’s restrictions on them.

So yet, no organisation has claimed responsibility for the Friday attack on Kabul’s Kaaj Higher Education Center.

The Islamic State (IS) terrorist organisation considers Shiites to be heretics and has previously carried out assaults on females, schools, and mosques in the area. In recent years, Hazaras have also been targeted in Herat.

The Islamic State has emerged as a major security threat to the Taliban, although officials believe their forces have destroyed the militants.

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