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Suicide bomber targets French school in Kabul

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An explosion has hit a French cultural centre inside a high school in the Afghan capital, Kabul, Al Jazeera has learned.

A senior Afghan official told the Associated Press news agency that a teenage suicide bomber carried out the attack inside the compound of Istiqlal High School, killing at least one person and wounding 15, one seriously.

Acting interior minister, Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said the lone fatality was a German national, but he does not know if the person is a man or a woman.

The blast was the second suicide attack that hit Kabul on Thursday. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Officials said the auditorium, which has a capacity of more than 100, was packed to the full with men, women and children, some of whom were foreign nationals, when the suspect detonated the explosives concealed in his clothes.

A Kabul police spokesman, Hashmat Stanakzai, told Al Jazeera that the attacker was 16 or 17 years old.

Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said the attack took place in a “very secure part” of the city.

A documentary film [not a play] entitled, ‘Heartbeat, the silence after the explosion’, was going on, when the attack happened, our correspondent said.

“This is one of the few secure places where people can go out and enjoy some shows,” she added. “People are searched before going into this compound.”

The French Embassy said that all the French citizens were safe.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius condemned the attack as “barbaric”.

“I firmly condemn this terrorist act which caused the death of several people and left many injured,” Fabius said in a statement.

Earlier, a suicide bomber targeted a bus carrying Afghan army personnel, killing six soldiers and wounding 11 people. That attack was claimed by the Taliban.

Also on Thursday, Taliban fighters attacked a busy bazaar in the western province of Herat, officials said.

‘Tragic reality’

Freelance journalist and researcher Giuliano Battiston, who was among the audience when the suicide attacker struck, said there was smoke and panic in the auditorium.

“There were around 100 people there, mostly young Afghan, both boys and girls,” said Battiston, who works for Inter Press Service and some Italian newspapers.

“In the middle of the performance, I heard a huge explosion. At first, I thought it was part of the performance, but then I turned my eyes around and realised it was a tragic reality. Behind me, on the steps, there was a dead body. People were screaming and trying to reach the exit.”

Battiston said he saw at least two people carried out of the auditorium by other people, as they could not do so by themselves.

“We then reached the garden, where all the other people were. I then saw policemen entering the place,” he added.

Another witness, 20-year-old Nargis said her mother had cautioned her against going for the screening.

“My mother insisted we don’t go as earlier in the day a suicide attacker had killed five Afghan army soldiers in the city,” Nargis told Al Jazeera over the phone.

“But I and my friends braved the Kabul cold and its chaotic traffic to see the film. A few minutes after the film began, there was a loud explosion. I fell on the floor. There was blood everywhere, people were running and screaming.” Al Jazeera

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