Explosion in Kabul Gym Kills At Least Six

An explosion in a boxing club in Dasht-e-Barchi, Kabul’s western neighbourhood kills six and leaves 11 more people wounded. The explosion took place around 07:30 P.M. at Mellat Boxing Club when it was filled with athletes.

According to local sources and hospitals in the area, at least two dead bodies and nine wounded persons were taken to the hospitals. One local hospital confirmed that one of those killed in the explosion was a 14-year-old named Zulfiqar. Khalid Zadran, the Taliban’s spokesman for the Kabul police department confirmed on Thursday the death of two and injury of 9 people to local news agencies.

The details of the incident and its true magnitude is yet to emerge. One person who visited the area told KabulNow that a suicide bomber detonated explosives in front of the head trainer. Residents say casualties could be much higher as between 50 and 70 athletes use the facility during its evening shift.

No group has taken responsibility for the explosion thus far. Unconfirmed sources tell KabulNow that the perpetrators were an Uzbek and a Kazakh national affiliated with the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (IS-KP) who acted under the guise of the Taliban’s police force.

The dead bodies and those injured were taken to the hospital by residents before the Taliban forces or the medical teams arrived. The area is surrounded by Taliban fighters now, preventing people from nearing the explosion scene.

Western Kabul, a neighbourhood populated by Shia Hazaras, has for years been the epicentre of deadly attacks targeting civilians in mosques, wedding halls, sports gyms, education centers, and community congregations. The Islamic State affiliates who see Shias as apostates have often taken responsibility for the attacks that have often killed children, students, and women. However, the Taliban are also believed to have been involved at least in some of the bombings. In 2018, double-bombing by ISIS in a wrestling gym killed 21 people. On Many 12, 2020, another complex ISIS attack involving shooting and bombing at an MSF maternity ward in Dasht-e-Barchi killed 24 civilians, including midwives, pregnant women and newborn babies.

Although the violence has subsided in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover two years ago, attacks on the Hazaras continue to target their peaceful way of life. In September 2022, an attack on Kaaj education center in the area killed 19 university aspirants and wounded 24 more. It was the second attack on the same center and one of several dozens since 2015 that has killed over 1000 Shia Hazaras only in western Kabul.

In his recent report to the Human Rights Council, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Afghanistan Richard Bennett also raised concerns about continuous human rights violations and persecution of Hazaras under the Taliban. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said recently that were able to confirm extrajudicial killing, forced displacement and destruction of property and arable land in the southern Uruzgan province.

The historically persecuted Hazaras used the two decades under the Western-backed republican government to educate themselves and embrace what the then-new Afghanistan offered them in liberty, equality, and opportunities. They participated widely in democratic processes, promoted socio-cultural pluralism and engaged in massive grassroots nonviolent activism.

Now with the Taliban’s re-ascendance to power, the community finds itself helpless in the face of a crashing economic crisis, lack of legal and political protection by the authorities, continuous threats of militancy and international abundance of the country.

* Updated on Friday, October 27, 2023.