Unidentified gunmen attacked a gurdwara in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday morning. The security guards stationed on its premises fired in retaliation, which triggered a fire that gutted parts of the complex. The Taliban have vowed to take punitive measures against the perpetrators of the attack.
Puneet Singh Chandhoke, president of the India World Forum who has been coordinating with the Indian government to evacuate Sikhs from the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, said at least two persons were killed and the fate of several remains unknown as they were taken to hospital by emergency workers.
Ahmed, a security guard at Gurdwara Karte Parwan, was shot dead in the attack that is being blamed on the Islamic State. Mr. Chandhoke said the gurdwara’s main prayer hall, where the Guru Granth Sahib was kept, caught fire after the exchange of fire. Sawinder Singh, a granthi (ceremonial reader of the Guru Granth Sahib) of the gurdwara, was killed in the attack.
“The cowardly attack on Gurdwara Karte Parwan should be condemned in the strongest terms by all,” External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in response to the attack.
“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,” Mr. Jaishankar added.
M. Naeem, the spokesperson of the Political Office of the Taliban, said, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the targeting of the Hindu temple in Kabul by the enemies of the Afghan people. It expresses its condolences to the families of the victims and stresses that firm and serious measures will be taken to identify and punish the perpetrators of this crime.”
The gurdwara in Kabul has been home to at least 150 Sikhs, who have been staying there since the fall of the Ashraf Ghani government last August. Around 30 devotees were present in the prayer hall at the time of the attack and several managed to flee.
The gurdwara had been attacked by the Islamic State in the past. In March 2020, an attack on this temple claimed at least 25 lives and left dozens injured. The latest attack has come days after India sent a senior diplomat to hold dialogue with the Taliban in Kabul. During talks with Joint Secretary J.P. Singh, Taliban’s Foreign Minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi urged New Delhi to reopen its diplomatic mission in Kabul.