Attack on Sikh temple in Kabul kills two

Published June 18, 2022
A view shows smoke rising from a building in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday in this still image obtained from a social media video. — Reuters
A view shows smoke rising from a building in Kabul, Afghanistan on Saturday in this still image obtained from a social media video. — Reuters

An attack on a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital of Kabul killed at least two people and injured seven on Saturday, following a blast in a car loaded with explosives, officials said, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Grey smoke billowed over the area in images aired by domestic broadcaster Tolo. A Taliban interior spokesman said attackers had laden a car with explosives but it had detonated before reaching its target.

Taliban authorities were securing the site, he added.

"There were around 30 people inside the temple," said a temple official, Gornam Singh. "We don't know how many of them are alive or how many dead."

Temple authorities did not know what to do, as the Taliban were not allowing them inside, Singh told Reuters.

A spokesman for Kabul's commander said his forces had taken control of the area and cleared it of attackers. One Sikh worshipper had been killed in the attack and one Taliban fighter killed during the clearing operation, he added.

Since taking power in August, the Taliban say they have secured Afghanistan, although international officials and analysts say the risk of a resurgence in militancy remains.

Some attacks in recent months have been claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

Sikhs are a tiny religious minority in largely Muslim Afghanistan, comprising about 300 families before the country fell to the Taliban. But many left afterwards, say members of the community and media.

Like other religious minorities, Sikhs have been a continual target of violence in Afghanistan. An attack at another temple in Kabul in 2020 that killed 25 was claimed by Islamic State.

'Utterly repugnant'

Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack.

"Pakistan is seriously concerned at the recent spate of terrorist attacks on places of worship in Afghanistan," the Foreign Office said in a statement.

"Yesterday, terrorists targeted the Imam Sahib Mosque in Kunduz, killing and injuring many worshippers. These acts of terrorism targeting religious places are utterly repugnant."

It reiterated its condemnation of terrorism "in all forms and manifestations".

"We express strong solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and support all efforts of the Afghan authorities in fighting the menace of terrorism and ensuring the protection of all their citizens."

Amnesty International South Asia also condemned the "reprehensible attack" against Hindu and Sikh communities. It said the incident depicts a trend of serious "increasing attacks" against minority groups in the country.

It added: "The Taliban, as de-facto authorities, are responsible for protection of minority communities and their places of worship. They must carry out a thorough investigation into the attacks, which should be conducted in line with international law and standards.

The Afghan Hindus and Sikhs are the smallest minority group of which most of them have already left Afghanistan due to fear of persecution."

Saturday's explosion follows a blast at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz the previous day that killed one person and injured two, according to authorities.

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