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KABUL: A suicide bomber attacked an education centre in the Afghan capital on Friday where hundreds of students were preparing for university exams, killing at least 20 people, most of them young women.

The bombing happened in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood of western Kabul, a predominantly Shia area home to the minority Hazara community, the target of some of Afghanistan’s most deadly attacks.

The bomber shot dead two security guards before entering the gender-segregated classroom, student Ali Irfani, who escaped the carnage, told AFP.

“Not many boys were hit because they were at the rear end of the classroom. The bomber entered from the front door where girls were sitting,” he said.

Akbar, another student witness, also told AFP that young women made up most of the casualties, with up to 600 people in the hall at the time.

Blast near Kabul mosque after Friday prayers kills at least four people

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the blast at Kaaj Higher Educational Centre, which coaches students for university admission tests.

However, the jihadist Islamic State group has claimed previous attacks in the area targeting girls, schools, mosques and a maternity hospital.

A resident who ferried victims to hospitals said he saw body parts scattered across the floor of the hall.

“Many students were hit by shrapnel in their head, neck and eyes,” said Asadullah Jahangir.

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