Islamic State claims attack on Sikh temple in Afghanistan, says response to Prophet insult

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on a gurdwara in Afghanistan capital that killed a Sikh man and a Taliban fighter, news agencies reported.

The attack on a Sikh prayer site in Kabul, began in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Militants opened fire outside the fortified doors leading to the compound housing a Sikh gurdwara, as well as the homes of members of the community.

“My house is just in front of the gurdwara, as soon as I heard firing I looked out the window, people were saying attackers are inside,” Kuljit Singh Khalsa said. “It was chaos, then all of a sudden there was a blast from outside.”

The attack had begun around half and hour before daily morning prayers were due to start. “If it had been later, there would’ve been even more people inside,” Mr Khalsa told the BBC.

The local affiliate of the terror outfit said on its Telegram channel that the attack was in response to the insults levelled to Prophet Mohammed, an apparent reference to the remarks made by BJP functionaries.

In a message posted by Islamic State Khorasan Province media wing, the outfit said that the attack targeted Hindus and Sikhs and the “apostates” who protected them in “an act of support for the Messenger of Allah”, reported AFP. ISKP said one of its fighters “penetrated a temple for Hindu and Sikh polytheists in Kabul, after killing its guard, and opened fire on the pagans inside with his machine gun and hand grenades”.

Smoke billowed over Gurdwara Karte Parwan in Kabul after terrorists stormed the Sikh temple on Saturday when around 30 community members were inside for morning prayers. 

India’s Foreign Ministry said they were “deeply concerned at the reports emanating from Kabul about an attack on a sacred Gurudwara in that city.”

Following the attack, India granted e-visas to over 100 Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan on “priority”, government officials said.

The attack comes days after the ISKP released a video on its propaganda site warning attack on Hindus and Sikhs. The video featured now-suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma who had made controversial remarks on Prophet Mohammed on a television channel. It highlighted the attack on a Sikh temple in March 2020, threatening to carry out more such attacks.

All the seven attackers were killed around three hours after the assault began, during which time intense gunfire and multiple explosions could be heard. At least one Sikh man and one member of the Taliban’s security forces were killed.

Sikhs are a tiny religious minority in Muslim-majority Afghanistan, comprising about 300 families before the country fell to the Taliban.

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