UN condemns terrorist attack on Sikhs in Afghanistan

A statement from UN chief said that attacks against civilians are unacceptable and those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable

March 26, 2020 02:30 pm | Updated 02:36 pm IST - United Nations

Afghan security personnel inspect the gurudwara in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Afghan security personnel inspect the gurudwara in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The United Nations has condemned the terrorist attack on a Gurudwara in Kabul that killed at least 25 people, with the UN chief calling for the perpetrators of such crimes to be held accountable and the world body emphasising that there can be no justification for the killing of civilians at a religious house.

At least 25 worshippers were killed and eight others injured when a heavily armed suicide bomber stormed his way into a prominent Gurudwara on Wednesday in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority Sikh community in the strife-torn country.

Also read | India condemns Gurdwara attack, promises all possible help to Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan

The Islamic State (IS) terror group, which has targeted Sikhs before in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack on the Gurudwara in Shor Bazar area at about 7.45 a.m. (local time) as 150 worshippers were inside the building.

The Secretary-General condemns the attack in Kabul on a Sikh-Hindu temple in which dozens of civilians were killed and injured. He expresses his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured, Secretary General Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Wednesday.

It added that the Secretary-General reiterates that attacks against civilians are unacceptable and those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable.

“The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan and will continue supporting efforts to bring peace to their country, the statement said.

Also read | India hints at Pakistan hand in Kabul gurdwara attack

In a tweet, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it is “outraged” by the attack.

“There can be no justification for the killing of civilians at a religious house. Our condolences to the victims and their families.”

High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Miguel Angel Moratinos expressed his “dismay” at the terrorist attack at the Gurudwara, which killed 25 victims, including a child.

The “despicable attack comes at a time when the world is facing a pandemic which adversely impacts all of us, requiring us to stand together as “One Humanity”, Moratinos said.

He stressed that attacks targeting sacred sites and worshippers are intolerable and have to stop. Recalling the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, he called on all governments and relevant stakeholders to support the implementation of the plan to guarantee the sanctity of worship places and the safety of worshipers.

Moratinos said the latest attack adds to an expanding number of attacks targeting various faith communities around the world. He reiterated that such outrageous acts of terror should not dissuade us from working together to promote solidarity, respect, and peace globally.

On behalf of the UNAOC, the High Representative expressed his condolences to the victims’ families and conveys his solidarity to the people and the Government of Afghanistan.

India’s ambassador to Afghanistan visits gurudwara

India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar on Thursday visited the Sikh gurudwara and offered condolences to families of the victims of the horrific attack.

“Amb @vkumar1969 visited the gurudwara and met community leaders, elders and families of the victims of terrorist attack. He shared their grief and offered condolences. He was told that the injured are receiving satisfactory treatment,” the Indian embassy in Afghanistan said in a tweet.

The embassy also said it was working for the return of the mortal remains of Tian Singh, one of the deceased from Delhi, whose family wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help them bringing back the mortal remains.

“@IndianEmbKabul is working for the return of the mortal remains of Shri Tian Singh. @IndianEmbKabul will continue to provide all assistance to the community and families as may be required in these difficult days,” it said.

Prime Minister Modi said on Wednesday that he was “saddened” by the attack on the gurudwara when 150 worshippers were inside the building.

“I am saddened by today’s terror attack at Gurudwara in Kabul. I express my condolences to the families of all the deceased,” he said in a tweet.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also condemned the attack that lasted for about six hours, terming it cowardly and reflective of a “diabolical mindset”.

“Such cowardly attacks on places of religious worship of the minority community, especially at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, is reflective of the diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers, it said in a statement.

The MEA said India stood in solidarity with the people, the government and the security forces of Afghanistan in their efforts for bringing peace and security to the country.

“We commend the brave Afghan security forces for their valorous response to the attack and their exemplary courage and dedication to protect the Afghan people and secure the country,” it said.

Police in Kabul said that at least 11 children were rescued from the gurdwara.

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