Kabul/New Delhi: Several blasts tore through a gurdwara in Kabul on Saturday, killing two persons, including a Sikh, and injuring seven others, while Afghan security personnel thwarted a bigger tragedy by stopping an explosive-laden vehicle from reaching the place of worship of the minority community in the war-torn country.
In the latest targeted assault on a place of worship of the Sikh community in Afghanistan, Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala neighborhood was attacked early Saturday morning and a gun battle lasting several hours between the terrorists and Taliban fighters ensued, said Abdul Nafi Takor, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry.
Three attackers were killed by the Taliban forces, the Pajhwok news agency reported.
Takor confirmed that at least one member of the Islamic Emirate forces and an Afghan Sikh national were killed in the incident. Seven others were injured and hospitalised.
According to the statement from the Interior Ministry, an explosive-laden vehicle aiming to target the place was thwarted before reaching its goal.
The gurdwara was attacked early in the morning when up to 30 people were inside, the BBC reported.
Takor said a vehicle full of explosives was detonated outside of the gurdwara but that resulted in no casualties.
First the gunmen threw a hand grenade which caused a fire near the gate of the gurdwara, the Associated Press quoted the Interior Ministry spokesman as saying.
Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the police operation ended after the last attacker was killed several hours later.
“The security forces were able to act quickly to control the attack and eliminate the attackers in a short period of time to prevent further casualties, he said.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Saturday strongly condemned the “cowardly attack” on a gurdwara in Kabul and said the government was closely monitoring the situation following the incident.
“The cowardly attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan should be condemned in the strongest terms by all. We have been closely monitoring developments since the news of the attack was received. Our first and foremost concern is for the welfare of the community,” Jaishankar tweeted.
“We are deeply concerned at the reports emanating from Kabul about an attack on a sacred Gurdwara in that city. We are closely monitoring the situation and waiting for further details on the unfolding developments,” the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs also tweeted.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has strongly condemned the attack and urged the Centre to extend immediate assistance to ensure the safety of minorities in the Afghan capital.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, the attack is suspected to have been carried out by from ISIS Khurasan.
The Islamic State group known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province has in the past claimed responsibility for attacks on mosques and minorities across the country.
“We heard a huge blast in Kart-e-Parwan neighbourhood at around 6 am local time. The blast was followed by another explosion which occurred about half an hour after the first blast. The whole place has now been sealed off,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an eyewitness as saying.
The security forces have cordoned off the area for precautionary measures, he said.
The blast sent a column of thick smoke into the sky and triggered panic, the witness said.
There were less than 700 Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan at the time of the 2020 attack. Since then, dozens of families have left but many cannot financially afford to move and have remained in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul, Jalalabad and Ghazni, according to AP.
Since the Taliban took power in August last year, the country has seen continuing attacks by rival Sunni Muslim militant group Islamic State.
Saturday’s incident is the latest targeted attack on a place of worship of a minority community in Afghanistan.
In March 2020, at least 25 worshippers were killed and eight others injured when a heavily armed suicide bomber stormed Har Rai Sahib, a prominent gurdwara in the heart of Kabul, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority Sikh community in the country.
The Islamic State terror group had claimed responsibility for the attack in the Shor Bazar area. PTI