New Delhi: Eleven people have been killed after gunmen stormed a gurdwara in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul Wednesday. Upto 200 people are still trapped inside the gurdwara, as rescue operations by security forces are underway.
SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks activities by armed groups, said the IS had claimed responsibility for the attack, reported AFP.
The country’s Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said the siege began at 7.45 am and the Afghan security forces responded promptly by immediately cordoned off the area.
Arian added that the Afghan security forces had cleared one floor of the complex, and were moving slowly in order to avoid civilian casualties.
“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.
Suicide bombers entered a #Sikh Gurdwara/Place of worship in 1st PD of #Kabul. 100s of Sikh/Hindu #Afghans live there.
Ongoing attack since 7:45.
ISI-sponsored #Taliban-style attack/offensive. Later they will not take responsibility and Daesh will claim it.#TalibanKillingAfghans
— Ejaz Malikzada – اعجاز ملکزاده (@EjazMalikzada) March 25, 2020
According to Narinder Singh Khalsa, a member of parliament representing the country’s Sikh minority, three suicide bombers entered the gurdwara’s dharamshala, the sanctuary area within the complex, and began attacking the worshippers present.
“The gunmen started their attack at a time when the dharamsala was full of worshippers,” said Khalsa
The Sikh lawmaker said he had received a call from a worshipper inside the gurdwara telling him about the attack and four casualties.
India strongly condemned the “heinous terror” attack, calling it “cowardly”, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We convey our sincerest condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased and wish 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,” the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
Amarinder asks Ghani for help
As the news broke, several people took to Twitter to share images of the violence. Sikhs in India also reacted to the attack, including Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh who requested Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to look into the matter urgently.
Horrific news coming from Kabul where a barbaric terror attack happened in the Gurudwara Guru Har Rai. It’s extremely tragic and unfortunate. Request President @AshrafGhani Ji to find out the perpetrators and look after our people.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) March 25, 2020
Sikhs are a small minority in Afghanistan with just over 300 families and have faced discrimination in the region for years. In 2018, a suicide bombing killed more than 12 Sikhs in Jalalabad.
The Kabul attack comes just a day after US announced it would cut its aid to the Afghan government by $1 billion, after leaders from both countries failed to reach an agreement and form a team to negotiate with the Taliban after last month’s peace deal.