Police in Kabul says a suicide attack at a tuition centre in the Afghan capital has killed at least 19 people and wounded many more.
The blast took place at the Kaaj education centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi area in the west of the city.
Students had been sitting a practice university exam, said officials at the centre. Most of the dead are girls.
Many of those living in the area are from the Hazara ethnic minority, which has been targeted in previous attacks.
Footage on local TV and shared on social media appeared to show scenes from a nearby hospital, where rows of covered bodies were laid out on the floor. Other media reportedly from the site of the private college showed rubble and upturned tables in the damaged classrooms.
“We didn’t find her here,” a woman who was looking for her sister at one of the hospitals told AFP news agency. “She was 19 years old.”
Eyewitnesses told the BBC that most of the victims were girls. A student who was wounded told AFP that there were around 600 people in the room when the attack happened.
The Kaaj tuition centre is a private college which teaches both male and female students. Most girls’ schools in the country have been closed since the Taliban returned to power in August last year, but some private schools are open.
No group has yet claimed the blast, which the Taliban’s Kabul police spokesman said had injured 27.
But Hazaras, most of whom are Shia Muslims, have long faced persecution from both the militant Islamic State group (IS) and the Taliban, which both adhere to Sunni Islam.
The Hazaras are Afghanistan’s third largest ethnic group.
On Friday the Taliban’s interior ministry spokesman said security teams were at the site and condemned the attack.
Abdul Nafy Takor said attacking civilian targets “proves the enemy’s inhuman cruelty and lack of moral standards”.
The attack was also strongly condemned by the US.
“Targeting a room full of students taking exams is shameful; all students should be able to pursue an education in peace and without fear,” said Karen Decker, charge d’affaires at the US mission to Afghanistan, in a tweet.
The security situation in Afghanistan, which had improved after the end of fighting following the Taliban takeover, has been deteriorating in recent months, with a number of attacks on Taliban supporters, mosques and other targets claimed by IS. The group is a bitter rival of the Taliban.
The Dasht-e-Barchi area has been targeted in a series of attacks, some on schools and hospitals.
Last year – before the Taliban returned to power – a bomb attack on a girls school in Dasht-e-Barchi killed at least 85 people, mainly students, and wounded hundreds more.
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