4 killed in assault on Kabul gurdwara

Published June 19, 2022
A Taliban fighter stands guard in front of a Sikh temple following an attack by gunmen in Kabul on June 18. — AFP
A Taliban fighter stands guard in front of a Sikh temple following an attack by gunmen in Kabul on June 18. — AFP

KABUL: Gunmen stormed a Sikh gurdwara in the Afghan capital on Saturday, killing at least one member of the community and wounding seven more, the interior ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said the attackers lobbed at least one grenade when they entered the temple, setting off a blaze in the complex.

Minutes later, a car bomb was detonated in the area but caused no casualties, he added.

“One of our Sikh brothers has been killed and seven others (were) wounded in the attack,” Takor said in a statement.

Two attackers were killed in an operation to secure the temple following the raid, he said, with one Taliban fighter also killed.

Two attackers killed, several buildings also damaged; Pakistan, India condemn gun-and-bomb attack

“I heard gunshots and blasts,” Gurnam Singh, a Sikh community leader, told AFP from close to the scene of Saturday’s attack soon after the raid began.

“Generally at that time in the morning we have several Sikh devotees who come to offer prayers at the gurdwara (temple complex).”

Footage posted on social media after the attack showed shattered pillars and walls in the temple’s main prayer hall, with debris scattered across the floor. A section of a building near the temple also caught fire.

The windows of several residential buildings were broken from the impact of the car bomb. Nearby streets were littered with shattered glass.

Taliban forces cordoned off the neighbourhood, preventing journalists from speaking to residents and witnesses.

A Taliban fighter deployed in the area said some Sikhs in the temple at the time of the attack managed to flee from a back door.

Some of Kabul’s other Sikh temples were closed for security reasons as reports of the attack spread.

No group claimed responsibility for the raid till late in night.

The attack came days after an Indian delegation visited Kabul to discuss the distribution of humanitarian aid from India to Afghanistan.

Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar in a tweet condemned the “cowardly attack” on the temple.

The community has faced repeated attacks over the years. At least 25 people were killed in March 2020 when gunmen stormed another Sikh temple in Kabul. The self-styled militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for that attack.

Pakistan condemns attack

Pakistan strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the gurdwara.

In a statement released by APP in Islamabad, the Foreign Office spokesperson said: “Pakistan is seriously concerned at the recent spate of terrorist attacks on places of worship in Afghanistan. Yesterday, terrorists targeted the Imam Sahib Mosque in Kunduz, killing and injuring many worshippers. These acts of terrorism targeting religious places are utterly repugnant”.

“Pakistan reiterates 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,” he added.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2022

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