A suicide bomber attack on an education centre in western Kabul has left at least 100 people killed and injured, most of them young women.
Dozens of women from Afghanistan's ethnic Hazara community protested in the capital after at least 100 people were killed and injured in a suicide bombing.
The attack happened on Friday at 0300GMT (7:30 am local time) at the Kaj educational institution in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of western Kabul, a predominantly Shia Muslim area home to the ethnic Hazara community - the target of some of Afghanistan's most deadly attacks.
Police said at least 20 people were killed but the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has put the number at 35, with an additional 82 wounded.
The death toll is expected to rise, UNAMA said.
On Saturday about 50 women chanted, "Stop Hazara genocide, it's not a crime to be a Shia", as they marched past a hospital in Dasht-e-Barchi where several victims of the attack were being treated.
Dressed in black hijabs and headscarves, grieving protesters carried banners that read: "Stop killing Hazaras", an AFP correspondent reported.
Dozens of adolescent girls & boys were killed today in a heinous attack on an educational center in Kabul City.— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) September 30, 2022
The de facto authorities must protect the rights of all Afghans - regardless of ethnicity or gender - to access education safely and securely.
They later gathered in front of the hospital and chanted slogans as dozens of heavily armed Taliban fighters kept watch.
Since the Taliban returned to power last August, women's protests have become risky, with numerous demonstrators detained and rallies broken up by Taliban forces firing shots in the air.
The bomber shot dead two security guards before entering the gender-segregated classroom, student Ali Irfani, who escaped the carnage, said.
"Not many boys were hit because they were at the rear end of the classroom. The bomber entered from the front door where girls were sitting," he said.
The Taliban's official twitter account put out a statement condemning the attack, expressing sympathy for the families of the victims, saying "Serious measures will be taken to find and punish the perpetrators".
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast at the education centre, however, Daesh has claimed previous attacks in the area targeting girls, schools and mosques.
A young boy sitting outside the classroom where a suicide bomber killed his sister today in west Kabul, a mostly Hazara neighbourhood (alongside up to 50 other female students). His deceased sister’s backpack next to him.— Shabnam Nasimi (@NasimiShabnam) September 30, 2022
This heartbreaking image defines Afghanistan. pic.twitter.com/Jo2Ow6tOT9
'Onslaught on education'
The United Nations' special rapporteur on Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, condemned the attack and demanded justice.
"Onslaught on education for Hazaras & Shias must end. Stop attacks on Afghanistan's future, stop international crimes," he said on Twitter.
Afghanistan's Shia Hazaras have faced persecution for decades, targeted by the Taliban during their insurgency against the former US-backed government and by Daesh - both of which consider Shias heretics.
In April, two deadly bomb blasts on the same day at separate education centres in Dasht-e-Barchi killed six people and wounded at least 20 others.
Daesh has emerged as a key security challenge for the Taliban, but officials claim their forces have defeated the armed group.