11 killed in Kabul gurdwara attack, Islamic State claims responsibility
India condemns the terror attack, saying that targeting of a religious place in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak reflects the "diabolical mindset" of the perpetrators and their backers.
Unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers attacked a gurdwara in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 11 worshippers and wounding as many, making it one of the deadliest attacks on the minority community in the country. India was quick to strongly condemn the terror attack, saying targeting of a religious place in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak reflects the "diabolical mindset" of the perpetrators and their backers.
The gunmen attacked the gurdwara in Shor Bazar area at about 07.45 (local time) as 150 worshippers were inside the building. "At least 11 people have been killed and 11 others wounded in attack at Dharamshala, a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul," TOLO News quoted a security source as saying.
The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that "its fighters were currently carrying out an attack on the temple", according to a statement released by SITE, which monitors jihadist networks worldwide.
"Three attackers are still fighting with security forces and one has been shot. Foreign troops have also responded to the attack on Dharamshala, a Sikh temple in PD1," it said in a tweet.
Kabul police said that at least 11 children were rescued from the gurdwara. Sikh lawmaker Nardendar Singh Khalisa told reporters close to the scene that up to 150 people were praying inside the gurdwara when it came under attack.
11 Sikhs killed, 11 more injured in attack on gurdwara in Kabul, Afghanistan.— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) March 25, 2020
Harrowing images from the scene. Absolutely heart-breaking. pic.twitter.com/KwEeoCwDh1
#BreakingNews— ???? (@kashmiri_kurii) March 25, 2020
Attack on a Gurudwara sahib at Kabul .
At least 11 people have been killed by attackers at Dharamshala, a Sikh worship area at #Kabul .
No one has taken responsibility for d attack,but the firing is still on .
There were about 150 Sikhs in the Gurdwara when— Ravinder Singh Robin ਰਵਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ راویندرسنگھ روبن (@rsrobin1) March 25, 2020
#GurdwaraGuruHarRai, Shor Bazar, #Kabul where in a #fidayeenattack four persons were killed seven injured .#KabulBlastatGurdwara pic.twitter.com/uVSDrLKkrg
"Afghan forces have cleared the first floor of a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul, where suicide bombers are battling security forces," Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian was quoted as saying by TOLO News. "A number of people have been rescued who were trapped inside the building," he said.
Sikhs are a small religious minority in Afghanistan with numbers fewer than 300 families. India conveyed its sincerest condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased and wished speedy recovery to the injured. "India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan," said the External Affairs Ministry.
"Such cowardly attacks on the places of religious worship of the minority community, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic, is reflective of the diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers," the MEA said.
It said India stood in solidarity with the people, the government and the security forces of Afghanistan in their efforts for bringing peace and security to the country.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said these killings are a grim reminder of the atrocities that continue to be inflicted upon religious minorities in some countries.
Suicide attack on a Gurudwara Sahib in Kabul needs to be strongly condemned. These killings are a grim reminder of atrocities that continue to be inflicted upon religious minorities in some countries & the urgency with which their lives & religious freedom have to be safeguarded. pic.twitter.com/yQM3u41dVI— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) March 25, 2020
The attack comes a day after the US said it would cut its aid to the government by $1 billion over frustrations that feuding political leaders could not reach an agreement and form a team to negotiate with the Taliban.
In 2018, a suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by the Islamic State militant group killed more than a dozen people in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
The US 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.