KABUL: At least two people were killed when a blast hit a car in the Afghan capital on Sunday, officials said, the third deadly attack in the country in as many days.

Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for Kabul’s commander, said the explosion hit a civilian vehicle in a neighbourhood in the north of the city. It was not clear who was behind the blast and or who was the target.

The attack followed an attack on a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul on Saturday that killed at least two people.

The Taliban say they have secured the country since taking over in August, but many analysts say the risk of militant violence remains and several deadly attacks have taken place in recent months.

A blast on Friday in the northern city of Kunduz killed one person and injured two.

IS claims responsibility for attack on Sikh gurdwara

Meanwhile, the militant Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on the Sikh gurdwara in Afghanistan that killed one community member and a Taliban fighter, saying it was retaliation for insults against Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Protests in several Muslim countries were sparked by the derogatory remarks by a spokeswoman for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist party earlier this month.

In a message posted on its Amaq propaganda site, IS said Saturday’s attack targeted Hindus and Sikhs and the “apostates” who protected them in “an act of support for the Messenger of Allah”.

The militant group said one of its fighters “penetrated a temple for Hindu and Sikh polytheists in Kabul, after killing its guard, and opened fire on the pagans inside with his machine gun and hand grenades”.

Interior ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said the attackers lobbed at least one grenade when they entered the gurdwara, setting off a blaze.

The attack follows a visit by an Indian delegation to Kabul to discuss the distribution of humanitarian aid from India to Afghanistan.

The number of bombings across Afghanistan has dropped since the Taliban returned to power, but several attacks — many targeting minority communities — have rocked the country in recent months, including several claimed by IS.

The number of Sikhs living in Afghanistan has dwindled to around 200, compared to about half a million in the 1970s. Most of those who remain are traders involved in selling herbal medicines and electronic goods brought from India.

In recent months, many impoverished Sikhs, including women and children, took refuge in the complex that was attacked on Saturday.

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 in an attack that was also claimed by IS.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2022

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