25 killed in attack on Sikh complex in Kabul

An Afghan Sikh walking past a damaged door inside a Sikh religious complex after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.
An Afghan Sikh walking past a damaged door inside a Sikh religious complex after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Kabul, Afghanistan, yesterday. The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL • Gunmen and suicide bombers raided a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul yesterday, killing 25 people before security forces killed all the attackers, the government said.

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Narender Singh Khalsa, a Member of Parliament who represents the tiny Sikh community, said he had received reports that up to 200 people were trapped in the temple during the early morning attack.

"Three suicide bombers entered a dharamsala," he said, referring to a sanctuary area in a temple compound. "The gunmen started their attack at a time when the dharamsala was full of worshippers."

Outside, families gathered and women cried as they waited to find out the fate of their relatives.

The Sikh community in Afghanistan numbers fewer than 300 families.

Several hours after the attack was launched, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said all the attackers had been killed.

The ministry said 25 people who had been in the religious compound were killed, eight wounded and 80 rescued.

A Taleban spokesman, in a message on Twitter, denied responsibility for the attack.

Human rights activists and countries including the US, India and Pakistan condemned the attack.

The United States last month struck a deal with the Taleban on the withdrawal of US-led international troops, but the agreement did not include ISIS militants.

The attack came a day after the US said it would cut aid to the Afghan government by US$1 billion (S$1.45 billion) over frustrations that feuding political leaders could not reach an agreement and form a team to negotiate with the Taleban.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline '25 killed in attack on Sikh complex in Kabul'. Print Edition | Subscribe