Publish: 25 Mar 2020, 08:56 pm
On Wednesday, gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing 25 people before security forces killed all of the attackers, the government said, reports Reuters.
The jihadist group Islamic State claimed responsibility for the assault in a statement. Before in South Asia, Sikhs were the object of attacks by Islamist militants. Their community in Afghanistan numbers fewer than 300 families.
Several hours after the attack was launched early in the morning, Interior Ministry spokesperson Tariq Arian said a security forces operation was over and all the attackers had been killed. He has not said how many.
The ministry said that 25 people were killed, eight injured and 80 saved who had been in the religious compound.
Narender Singh Khalsa, a member of parliament who represents the tiny Sikh community, said he had had reports that up to 200 people had been trapped in the temple during the attack.
“Three suicide bombers entered a Dharamsala,” he said, referring to a sanctuary area in a temple compound. “The gunmen started their attack at a time when the Dharamsala was full of worshippers.”
Outside, families gathered and women cried as they waited to find out the fate of their relatives.
In the late 1980s, there were about 500,000 Sikhs scattered across Afghanistan, many from families that had been there for generations, but most fled after years of civil war and the rise of the Taliban.
A Taliban spokesman, in a message on Twitter, denied responsibility for the attack.
Human rights activists and countries including the United States, India, and Pakistan condemned the attack.
“We are shocked and disheartened ... the authorities have a responsibility to protect minorities and their places of worship in Afghanistan,” Amnesty International South Asia said on Twitter.
In 2018, a suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by Islamic State killed more than a dozen people in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
The United States last month struck a deal with the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S.-led international troops but the agreement does not include Islamic State militants.
The attack comes one day after the U.S. said it would cut government aid by $1 billion over frustrations that feuding political leaders couldn't reach an agreement and form a negotiating team with the Taliban.
An official with NATO mission in Afghanistan said the response to the attack was led and conducted by Afghan powers but they had provided some NATO advice and assistance.