Dozens killed in Daesh attack on Sikh temple in Kabul

Dozens killed in Daesh attack on Sikh temple in Kabul
Sikh devotees arrive to pay respect on the occasion of Sikh 'Maghi Mela' festival, following the Lohri or harvest festival, at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on January 14, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Dozens killed in Daesh attack on Sikh temple in Kabul

Dozens killed in Daesh attack on Sikh temple in Kabul
  • 25 civilians lost their lives and eight were wounded
  • It took security officials seven hours to kill the assailant

KABUL, Afghanistan: At least 25 people were killed at a Sikh temple in Kabul on Wednesday, in what officials confirmed was a suicide attack claimed by Daesh.

While worshippers were performing rituals, a man armed with hand grenades and wearing a suicide vest stormed the temple complex in a crowded part of the city.

More than 200 people were inside when the siege began. It took security officials nearly seven hours to kill the assailant, who was wearing a military uniform.

“Unfortunately, 25 civilians lost their lives and eight were wounded in the attack,” Tariq Aryan, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told reporters.

Narender Singh Khalsa, a legislator from the Sikh community, told Arab News that the casualties included children. “This was an unjustified attack, it was a barbaric act."

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on their website, the second conducted by the group in Kabul in recent weeks. The last attack killed 60 people, all of them Shiites who had gathered to commemorate the killing of their religious leader by Taliban insurgents decades ago.

Daesh gave no reason for the temple attack on Wednesday, which was one of the bloodiest assaults on the Sikh community in the history of Afghanistan. In 2018, Daesh killed a group of prominent Sikh leaders in a suicide blast in Jalalabad, in the eastern part of the country, prompting many members of the community to flee the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a security source told Arab News that Wednesday’s attack may be linked to recent deadly riots targeting Muslims in India.   

President Ashraf Ghani in a statement said the attack “shows the extreme weakness of the enemy, religious sites should not be vulnerable to attacks and violence.”

The attack was also condemned by diplomatic missions in Kabul.