At least 25 members of the Sikh community were feared to have been killed in a terror attack on a Gurudwara in central Kabul on Wednesday.
Four terrorists, including suicide bombers, attacked Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib in Kabul at around 7.45 am local time (8.45 IST). There were around 120 people inside the gurudwara, including 20 families, when the attack began, as per media reports.
According to SITE, which monitors jihadists networks, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack.
IS Claims Raid on Sikh Temple in Kabul https://t.co/DwgTcjJGeK— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) March 25, 2020
Sources said Afghan security forces were engaged in a gun battle with terrorists who stormed Gurudwara in the Shorbazar area Wednesday morning. Around 150 people were worshipping in the Gurudwara at the time of the attack.
RIP to all those who lost their lives in the Gurdwara attack in Kabul, Afghanistan this morning 🙏🏽🇦🇫 pic.twitter.com/EeA1eaXynH— Sagar Singh (@SagarJunejaa) March 25, 2020
However, the security forces, sources said, rescued some worshippers from the Gurudwara. The Sikhs constitute a minuscule minority in Afghanistan.
Paying tribute to those killed in Kabul Gurdwara Sahib Attack pic.twitter.com/LwwYJKTDc3— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) March 25, 2020
The Ashraf Ghani government has blamed the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network for the terror attack.
However, the Taliban, has denied involvement in the attack on the Sikh shrine. Though the US and Taliban have signed a peace deal, violence in Afghanistan remains unabated.
Reacting to the terror attack, India's Housing and Urban Minister and a former diplomat Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday tweeted, "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 and the urgency with which their lives and religious freedom have to be safeguarded."
Condemning the terror attack on a gurdwara in Afghanistan’s Kabul, in which 25 worshippers were killed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday expressed his condolences to the families of all the deceased.
“I am saddened by the terror attack at the Gurudwara in Kabul. I express my condolences to the families of all the deceased,” Modi said.
“India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan,” the MEA said. “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 Ministry of External Affairs said.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh termed as “extremely reprehensible” the terrorist attack and said he is praying for the speedy recovery of those injured. “The terrorist attack on a Sikh Gurudwara in Kabul is extremely reprehensible. My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their loved ones in this heinous act against humanity. I also pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” the minister said on Twitter.
Videos and photos from the attack showed scared and crying children being ferried out from the site. In another video, children were huddled and whimpering, while officials took down their names.
There were heartrending scenes of members of Afghanistan’s tiny minority wailing and desperately crying as they waited outside the hospital.
The Islamic State had previously attacked a gathering of Sikh and Hindus, who were waiting to meet Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, in Jalalabad in 2018, leaving 19 dead.
There are reportedly only a couple of hundred Hindus and Sikhs left in Afghanistan – the remnants of a larger and prosperous community. Most of them started to migrate to India and the West from Afghanistan over the years, especially after the Taliban ruled Kabul and imposed severe restrictions on minorities.