Blast targets Samangan madrassa
AW investigators visually confirmed at least 13 casualties, among them multiple children.
30 Nov 2022
On November 30, 2022, reports emerged of an explosion at "Al-Jihadi", a madrassa in the city of Aybak, Samangan province. The reports, which emerged around 14:30 local time, indicated that the incident occurred during noon prayer, which TOLOnews corroborated.
TOLOnews, claiming to have spoken to doctors from Samangan Provincial Hospital, where the victims were taken, reported that the explosion resulted in 15 dead and 27 wounded. AW investigators visually confirmed at least 13 casualties in footage shared in the aftermath of the explosion, among them multiple children. The footage shows that many bystanders in the explosion's aftermath were armed men, suggesting the explosion occurred at a Taliban-run madrassa.
Using footage and an image shared on social media showing the explosion's aftermath, AW investigators were able to geolocate the sports hall where the blast occurred, confirming the incident took place next to the Kabul-Mazar highway in Aybak, Samangan province.
Due to the visible damage seen in the footage shared, AW investigators concluded that the device used was likely a PB-IED (Person-Borne Improvised Explosive Device). This was due to the damage indicators visible on the wall, which can be seen at the 0:34 second mark in the footage. The damage is consistent with shrapnel, and potential ball bearings, which hit the wall at force.
At the 0:34 mark, a Taliban fighter stands in front of the camera, close to the damage on the wall. The damage appears to be waist height [and higher], indicating the possible use of an explosive vest with fragmentation. It is possible that a fragmentation hand grenade caused the damage; however, because of the visible size of the building and the damage sustained to the roof (seen at the 0:21 second mark), AW investigators assessed it was unlikely that a hand grenade produced enough force to cause significant damage to the roof of the entire building.
Imdadullah Mohajer, the Taliban Head of Information and Culture, told VOA news that the number of dead is not yet clear as there are many critically injured, and the numbers may increase. Mohajer claimed that the nature of the attack is not yet known, but he confirmed that it occurred as students, many of whom were children, were attending prayers. Abdul Nafee Takkur, the Interior Ministry spokesperson, confirmed the incident on Twitter and added that “around 10 students were martyred and many others were injured”.
Pro-Taliban social media users were quick to blame “Daesh Khawarij” (ISKP) for the explosion, inciting “the Kharijites [to] be destroyed” and comparing ISKP to ‘Crusaders’ and ‘Jews’ by stating, “Only the Crusaders and the Jews did such great horror”.
The National Liberation Front for Afghanistan later claimed the attack on their Facebook page, however, the group has previously claimed attacks such as the Loya Jirga attack, which was claimed and later proved to have been carried out by ISKP. Due to this, the veracity of the claim is unclear. Further details have yet to be released from the group.