Updated: March 26, 2020 3:26:04 am
At least 25 people were killed and more than eight others were wounded during an attack Wednesday on a gurdwara in the Afghan capital Kabul. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesperson for the Taliban denied any involvement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack, and New Delhi said “such cowardly attacks” at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic is reflective of the “diabolical mindset” of the perpetrators and their backers.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said security forces rescued at least 80 people, including women and children, who were inside the gurdwara complex.
Tariq Arian, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, was quoted by Khama news agency as saying a group of suicide bombers entered the gurdwara in Shor Bazar area of Kabul around 7.45 am local time.
Arian said security forces rescued the majority of people who were trapped inside. The attack ended after an almost six-hour standoff, resulting in the killing of the assailants.
In New Delhi, Prime Minister Modi said, “I am saddened by today’s terror attack on Sikhs at Gurudwara in Kabul. I express my condolences to the families of all the deceased.”
The Ministry of External Affairs, while conveying its condolences to the families of those killed and wishing speedy recovery to the injured, said India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh communities of Afghanistan.
“We commend the brave Afghan security forces for their valorous response to the attack and their exemplary courage and dedication to protect the Afghan people and secure the country,” the MEA statement said.
The attack was also condemned by Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. “These killings are a grim reminder of atrocities that continue to be inflicted upon religious minorities in some countries & the urgency with which their lives & religious freedom have to be safeguarded,” he tweeted.
The Shor Bazar area of Kabul was once home to several gurdwaras but they were destroyed during the fighting in the 1980-90s. Many Hindus and Sikhs living in the area also migrated to other countries. Kabul is still home to several hundred Hindus and Sikhs.
Incidentally, Modi had a telephonic conversation with President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan on Tuesday. They had exchanged Navroz greetings noting that the festival symbolises the shared heritage and cultural linkages between the two countries.
“The leaders discussed the evolving situation in the region particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and reaffirmed their commitment to boost cooperation,” a statement by MEA had said Tuesday.
In 2018, a suicide bombing, targeted at the Sikh community and claimed by the Islamic State, killed more than a dozen people in Jalalabad.
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