Attack on Sikh temple leaves one dead in Afghanistan

A Taliban fighter stands guard in front of a Sikh temple after a deadly grenade attack on June 18, 2022 in Kabul.

One member of the Sikh community died and seven others were injured on Saturday after a grenade attack by a group of gunmen on a temple in Kabul.

At around 6:30 am (0000 GMT), gunmen entered a Sikh temple in the west of the city and attacked “a guard” with a grenade, Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said in a statement.

One member of the Sikh community died, and seven others were wounded, he reported, adding that fighters from Taliban forces rushed to the scene, and one of them was killed.

“Two of the attackers died during the intervention,” he added.

A few minutes after the attack, a car bomb exploded near the temple, claiming no new victims, said Abdul Nafi Takor.

“I heard gunshots and explosions coming from the ‘gurdwara’ (Sikh temple),” Gurnam Singh, the leader of this religious community in Kabul, told AFP.

“Usually at this time of the morning we have several Sikh devotees who come to the temple to pray,” he said.

Following the attack, a fire broke out. Videos posted on social media showed a plume of dark smoke rising from the site, and gunshots are heard.

In Afghanistan, an almost entirely Muslim country, around 200 Sikhs live, up from half a million in the 1970s.

– Victims of attacks –

In recent years, the Afghan Sikh community has been the target of several attacks. The deadliest of these was in March 2020, when gunmen stormed a temple in Kabul, killing at least 25 people. The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

IS had already attacked this minority in a July 2018 suicide bombing in Jalalabad, in the east of the country, which left 19 dead.

Forty years of war, poverty and discrimination led to the exodus of the Afghan Sikh community. And since the Taliban returned to power last August, nearly 100 of them have gone into exile.

The number of attacks, often aimed at minority religious communities, has decreased in the country since the arrival of the Taliban.

A series of bomb attacks hit the country, however, in late April, the month of Ramadan, killing dozens of people. At the end of May, they happened again. Most of them were claimed by IS.

The Taliban are trying to minimize the threat posed by the Islamic State-Khorasan (EI-K), the regional arm of IS, and are waging a relentless battle against the group. The number of police operations also increased, especially in Nangarhar province (east), which led to the arrest of hundreds of men accused of belonging to the group.

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