KABUL, Afghanistan – A group of Afghan women on Saturday protested a suicide bombing that killed or injured dozens of students at a Shia education center in the capital Kabul a day earlier, demanding better security from the government led by the Taliban.

The protest was quickly dispersed by Taliban police.

The bomb blast hit an education center packed with hundreds of students in a Shiite neighborhood on Friday, killing 19 people and injuring 27. Among the victims were teenagers taking college entrance exams , a Taliban spokesman said.

The morning blast at the center took place in the Dashti Barchi neighborhood of Kabul, an area populated mainly by ethnic Hazaras, who belong to Afghanistan’s Shia minority community. The Islamic State group has carried out repeated and gruesome attacks on schools, hospitals and mosques in Dashti Barchi and other Shia areas in recent years.

About 20 protesters gathered in the Dashti Barchi area on Saturday for about 45 minutes before their gathering was dispersed by Taliban security. They carried banners in English and Dari reading “Stop Hazar Genocide”.

“We ask the Taliban government, when it claims to have provided security, how it cannot prevent an attacker from entering an educational center to target female students. In this incident, a family lost four members, why is this still happening,” said protester Fatima Mohammadi.

Staff at the Kaaj Education Center spent Saturday cleaning up rubble caused by the attack, while family members of the victims rummaged through blood-soaked items belonging to loved ones.

Hussain, who goes by a name, witnessed the attack. He said he thought the death toll was considerably higher, given the large number of bodies he had seen.

“First the attacker right there, where a crowd of students were standing, opened fire. At least 40 people were killed there,” he said.

Zahra, a student who survived the attack, was unhurt as she went out minutes before to buy a pen. She said she lost her friends in the attack and also her hope for a better future.

“I don’t even know if there’s a future for us or not anymore,” she said.

No one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The Islamic State group – the Taliban’s main rival since taking over Afghanistan in August 2021 – has in the past targeted the Hazara community, including in Dashti Barchi, in a brutal campaign of violence.

Militants have carried out several deadly attacks in Dashti Barchi, including a gruesome 2020 attack on an IS-claimed maternity hospital that killed 24 people, including newborn babies and mothers.