Afghanistan: gunmen storm Sikh temple in Kabul

Gunmen have stormed a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital, throwing at least one grenade and wounding two people, the interior ministry and witnesses said.

The number of bombings has dropped across the country since the Taliban seized power in August, but there have been several fatal attacks in recent months.

“I heard gunshots and blasts coming from the gurdwara,” Gurnam Singh, a Sikh community leader said.

The interior ministry spokesman, Abdul Nafi Takor, said a grenade blast had wounded two members of the Sikh community. Minutes later a car bomb detonated in the area but caused no casualties, he said.

Singh, who was close to the scene, said the number of casualties could rise. “Generally at that time in the morning we have several Sikh devotees who come to offer prayers at the gurdwara,” he said.

The number of Sikhs living in Afghanistan has dwindled to about 200 compared with about half a million in the 1970s.

The community has faced repeated attacks. At least 25 people were killed in March 2020 when gunmen stormed a temple.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, which forced many Sikhs to leave the country even before the Taliban returned to power.

The jihadist group has a history of targeting Afghan Sikhs, Hindus and members of other minority communities including Shia and Sufi Muslims.

It claimed responsibility for some of a string of bombings during Ramadan, which ended in Afghanistan on 30 April.

The deadliest was in the northern city of Kunduz, where a bomb targeting Sufi worshippers killed at least 36 people at a mosque.

Like the Taliban, Islamic State is a Sunni Islamist group, but the two are bitter rivals.

The Taliban have pursued an Afghanistan free of foreign forces, whereas Islamic State wants a caliphate stretching from Turkey to Pakistan and beyond. Taliban officials insist their forces have defeated the group, but analysts say it remains a key security challenge.

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