A suicide attack at a tuition centre in the Afghan capital Kabul has killed at least 23 people, most of them female students, police and witnesses say.

Nearly 30 others were wounded 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 when the bomber struck. No group has yet claimed the attack.

Many of those in the area are minority Hazaras, who have often been targeted by Islamic State (IS) militants.

Statement by Neil Turner, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Country Director in Afghanistan:

“We are horrified by this morning’s deadly attack on the Kaaj education centre in the Dasht-e-Barchi area in the western part of the capital, leaving at least 19 young students dead and dozens more injured.

“An education centre filled with youth preparing for exams should be a venue for joy, focus and excitement – never awash with blood and horror.

“This assault comes only a few months after the gruesome attack on the Abdul Rahim Shahid boy’s high school in the same neighbourhood of Kabul. We call on the authorities in Afghanistan to take steps to ensure that educational facilities are protected against threats and attacks so that girls and boys can fully enjoy their education rights.”

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid condemned the attack in a tweet Friday.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls the attack on Kaj training center in the 13th district of Kabul a big crime, strongly condemns it, and expresses deepest sympathy to the families of the victims of this incident.”

“Serious measures will be taken to find and punish the perpetrators,” he added.

UNICEF said it was “appalled by the horrific attack” in a tweet Friday.

Since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, there have been multiple attacks against the Hazara community.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province has claimed responsibility for 13 attacks against the Hazaras and been linked to three more that have killed and injured at least 700 people, according to Human Rights Watch.

“The Taliban authorities have done little to protect these communities from suicide bombings and other unlawful attacks or to provide necessary medical care and other assistance to victims and their families,” the report added.

A string of attacks in Kabul have claimed dozens of lives in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, two Russian embassy employees were among six people killed in a suicide blast near the Russian embassy, and in August, an explosion at a mosque during evening prayers killed 21 people and injured 33 more.