HERAT -- The deadly suicide bombing last week of the Kaaj Educational Centre in Kabul continues to spark outrage among Afghans.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives among hundreds of male and female students while they were taking a practice university entrance exam (Kankor) on September 30 in Kabul's Dasht-e-Barchi neighbourhood, home to the historically oppressed Shia Hazara community.
The number of deaths from the bombing has risen to 53 and could further increase, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) announced Monday (October 3).
No group claimed responsibility, although the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) has conducted similar attacks in the past.
More than 300 female students of Herat and Bamiyan universities took to the streets on October 2 to denounce the massacre.
Dozens of other students on October 3 also held a protest in Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial capital of Balkh.
Terrorists want to stop Afghanistan's progress by killing students, said Asiya Bassam, a journalism student at Herat University who protested.
"We are raising our voices to stop genocide and to uphold the rights of girls to be able to go to schools and study in a safe environment," she said.
"No matter how much they kill us and blow up our schools, we will rise up again and fight these terrorists with education and knowledge."
"All of us -- Pashtun, Tajik and Hazara -- say in one voice that the blood of Pashtun, Tajik and Hazara is one," she added.
The perpetrators must be arrested and brought to justice, said Nargis Noori, a Bamiyan University student who also took part in the demonstrations.
"We condemn the attack on students in Kabul. This inhuman attack shows the extent of the brutality of these terrorists," she said.
"Terrorists think that they can stop the education and development of the Afghan youth by attacking schools and educational centres, but they will never see this hope of theirs realised," she added.
"More students have turned to education when terrorists have committed similar crimes in the past."
Terrorist groups must be stopped in Afghanistan to avoid further bloodshed and deaths of innocents, Noori said.
Hostility toward education and knowledge
Terrorist groups aim to attack schools and educational centres to block the advancement of education and knowledge in Afghanistan, said Safiullah Samimi, 21, a resident of Herat city.
"Terrorists do not want the new generation of Afghans to attain knowledge and progress," he said. "By committing suicide attacks on educational centres, they want to cause fear among the public and stop its children from studying."
Even if terrorists continue to commit crimes and spill the blood of innocent youths, Afghans will not fall behind on the journey of science and education, he said.
Terrorism against educational centres makes Afghan youth even more resolute and encourage them to try harder, study and attain knowledge, Samimi said.
Terrorist groups are afraid of informed and educated Afghan youth, agreed Fatima Azizi, a Bamiyan University student.
Terrorists will have no chance of recruiting youth if they are educated, she said.
She called on the international community to help Afghans in these tragic and difficult times.
"We demand that the international community not be a spectator in this and not only condemn such attacks but also support Afghans in stopping them," she added.
The international community stood beside Afghans for 20 years, and it would not be fair to forget Afghanistan now, Azizi said.
"If terrorists' nests are not destroyed, they will make not only Afghanistan but the entire world insecure."
"For a safe world, the international community needs to intervene quickly to improve the situation in Afghanistan," she added.
An anti-Islamic and inhumane act
Religious scholars have condemned suicide attacks and bombings targeting civilians and describe them as acts against Islamic and human values.
Those who commit suicide attacks are not part of Islam, said Mawlawi Khairullah Niazi, a religious scholar in Herat city.
"The thought of suicide and bombing has no place in Islam," he said. "Those who commit such crimes using the name of Islam are neither Muslims nor humans. They are a bunch of wild animals who drink human blood."
"An attack on civilians is a crime, regardless of how it is labelled, and its perpetrators will be questioned by God," he added. "Spilling the blood of innocents is a great sin in Islam and will never be forgiven."
Suicide attacks and bombings have no religious justification and their perpetrators will permanently remain in hell, said Malawi Sayed Ahmad Hanafi, a religious scholar in Badghis.
"Innocent Afghans have been the victims of suicide attacks and bombings for years. Those who commit such attacks are murderers, and God has designated a heavy punishment for murderers," he said.
"The youth who were studying in the school and were attacked had committed no crime," he added.
Islam rejects any kind of violence against civilians and innocents, he said, adding that suicide attackers and bombers are tools in the hands of foreign intelligence agencies whose goal is to kill innocents and cause fear.