25 killed in Kabul Sikh temple attack

Afghan forces near the Sikh complex in Kabul, after the attack Afghan forces near the Sikh complex in Kabul, after the attack Mohammad Ismail/Reuters

25 March 2020

ISIL claims the attack against Afghan religious minority

On Wednesday 25 March, gunmen put a Sikh religious complex in Kabul under siege for six hours. The attack resulted in 25 people killed, including a child, according to Afghan Ministry of Interior. The siege ended with the killing of the attackers by Afghan security forces and the liberation of 80 hostages, including a dozen children trapped in the facility. At least 15 people reported injuries and where transferred to local hospitals. Narindra Singh Khalsa, an Afghan parliamentarian belonging to the Sikh community, reported to Reuters that the gunmen started to fire at people during the prayer, when the temple was full of worshippers.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors activities of armed group in Afghanistan, reported that ISIL claimed the attack. This is not the first attack carried out by ISIL against religious minorities in Afghanistan, a majority Sunni Muslim country. In early March, the group targeted a gathering of Shia Muslims in Kabul, killing 32. Similarly to the latest attack on Wednesday, in 2018, ISIL targeted the Sikh community with a suicide bombing attack in Jalalabad killing a dozen people.

The attack comes at a difficult political time for Afghanistan. After the US-Taliban deal signed earlier last month had sparked new hope for stability in the country, the situation rapidly worsened. A contested election ended with the proclamation of two competing presidents in the country, stalling any progress in the talks between the Taliban and the rebels. In response, just days before the attack, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced US would cut its aid to Afghanistan by one billion dollars, leaving the country in deep uncertainty.   


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Author: Annette Savoca 

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