Mohammad Ismail / Reuters

Suicide bomber attacks high school in Afghanistan

French-run Esteqlal High School, one of Afghanistan's oldest and most prestigious schools, targeted in attack

A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a French-run high school in Kabul on Thursday, killing at least seven people and wounding several others, according to local news reports. 

Acting Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said the attack took place at the Esteqlal High School, one of Afghanistan's oldest and most prestigious schools. He said the attacker was about 16 years old. At least seven people were wounded in the attack, senior Kabul police official General Farid Afzail told AFP.

The attack, which occurred as the French Cultural Center hosted a musical performance inside the school’s auditorium, also injured 15 others. 

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

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, adding there were no French victims.

The school, which is considered to be a safe location with strict security measures, is located near Kabul's only five-star hotel and in close proximity to the country's foreign ministry. Officials are still working to determine how the attacker was able to gain access to the school's auditorium and carry out the bombing.

The school bombing was the latest in a series of attacks to take place in Afghanistan on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber in Kabul killed six Afghan soldiers in an attack on a military minibus, which also wounded 10 other people, according to Farid Afzali, the chief of criminal investigation for Kabul police. He said the wounded included civilians, but could give no further details of the attack, which happened on a busy road in the east of the city during the morning rush hour.

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for minibus attack, marking the resumption of an intensified anti-government campaign by the group after a brief lull in attacks.

Later on Thursday, Taliban fighters attacked a busy bazaar in the western province of Herat, officials said. Aminullah Azad, deputy provincial police chief, said dozens of fighters had forced their way into people's homes in Shindand district and had exchanged fire with security forces.

Meanwhile, five Afghan school children were reportedly killed in a foreign forces air strike in northern Parwan province, local Afghan officials said.

The International Security Assistance Force confirmed an air strike in the area, but said the five killed were insurgents. Civilian casualties caused by air power have been one of the most contentious issues of the war, though there are often conflicting claims.

Al Jazeera and wire services. Jennifer Glasse and Bilal Sarwary contributed to this report from Kabul. 

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