25 civilians killed, 8 hurt in suicide attack on Kabul gurdwara

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Kabul, March 25: Afghan and foreign security forces were reported to have killed four unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers who attacked a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 25 civilians, mostly Sikhs.

A child’s body was also recovered from the complex. Total deaths among the worshippers were believed to be 25. Eight were were wounded in the attack at ‘Dharamshala’, as the gurdwara is called in Kabul, the Ministry of Interior confirmed, adding that “80 people, including women and children, were rescued”.

TOLO News, an Aghan online news group, said the attackers were neutralised in a six-hour operation.

Afghan security forces had blocked off the area and were taking on the attackers, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said in a message to journalists.

The Islamic State group has claimed the attack, according to the SITE intelligence group, in the latest assault. 

Narender Singh Khalsa, a member of parliament who represents the tiny Sikh community, said he had reports that four people had been killed and up to 200 people trapped inside the temple in Shor Bazar area of Kabul in the early morning attack.

“The gunmen started their attack at a time when the dharamsala was full of worshippers,” he said.

The attack comes a day after the United States said it would cut its aid to the government by $1 billion over frustrations that feuding political leaders could not reach an agreement and form a team to negotiate with the Taliban.

The Interior Ministry spokesman said Afghan security forces had cleared one floor of the complex and were moving slowly to try and avoid civilian casualties.

Sikhs are a small religious minority in Afghanistan with numbers fewer than 300 families.

In 2018, a suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by the Islamic State militant group killed more than a dozen people in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The United States last month struck a deal with the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S.-led international troops but the agreement does not include Islamic State militants.

Reuters/AFP/PTI/Tolo News