The bombings were the latest in a particularly bloody year for the Afghan capital, even by the standards of a country inured to decades of conflict.
The first explosion was detonated by a suicide bomber sitting among students at a lecture marking the 38th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The death toll rose over the day as hospitals struggled to cope, and may climb further.
“The hall was packed with the people when there was a blast at the back,” said Ali Abbas Qul, a university student who had attended the lecture. He wept outside a hospital, in clothes still stained with the blood of two friends, according to Guardian.
“People started running everywhere. Many lost consciousness. I lost my two friends and picked up their bodies. Many of the university students are still missing.”
Two more blasts outside the building targeted security and medical services, and people attempting to put out a fire started by the first bomb.
“I was trying to help people who were injured and killed in the first two blasts when the third explosion hit,” said Saed Qasem Rahmati, 35, a former employee at the cultural center who rushed to help after the first bomb and was still in shock.
Many of the victims were badly burned, he said, and he feared that several friends might be among the unidentifiable bodies.