Sikh temple in Afghanistan rocked by explosions, gunfire

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Several explosions and gunfire broke through a Sikh temple in Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday, a Taliban official said, injuring at least two people. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Abdul Nafi Takor, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said gunmen attacked the Sikh house of worship known as a gurdwara in Kabul.

He said there was a firefight between the attackers and Taliban forces and two Sikhs were injured and taken to a hospital. “First, the gunmen threw a hand grenade that started a fire at the gate,” Takor said.

Videos posted to social media show plumes of black smoke rising from the temple in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala neighborhood and gunshots can be heard.

A regional affiliate of the Islamic State group known as Islamic State in Khorasan province has recently ramped up attacks on mosques and minorities across the country.

The IS affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the biggest security challenge facing the country’s Taliban rulers. Since taking power in Kabul and elsewhere in the country last August, the Taliban have launched sweeping crackdowns on IS in eastern Afghanistan.

In March 2020, a lone Islamic State gunman rampaged through a Sikh temple in Kabul, killing 25 worshipers, including a child, and injuring eight others. As many as 80 worshipers were trapped inside the gurdwara as the gunman threw grenades and fired an automatic rifle into the crowd.

At the time of the attack in 2020, there were fewer than 700 Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan. Since then, dozens of families have left, but many cannot afford to move financially and have remained in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul, Jalalabad and Ghazni.

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