Gunmen attack gurdwara in Afghan capital, massacre 25 worshippers
Kabul, Mar 25 : At least 25 worshippers were killed and eight others injured when heavily armed suicide bombers blasted their way into a prominent gurdwara 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.
The Islamic State (IS) terror group, which has targeted Sikhs before in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack on the gurdwara in Shor Bazar area at about 07:45 (local time) as 150 worshippers were inside the building.
"At least 25 people were killed and 8 others were wounded in the attack at Dharamshala, a Sikh worship place in Kabul," TOLOnews quoted the Ministry of Interior as saying on the attack that lasted nearly six hours.
"All four suicide bombers who attacked Dharamshala, a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul, were killed after nearly six hours of fighting. Afghan special forces confirmed," it said in a tweet.
The ministry said in a statement that 80 people, including women and children, were rescued from the gurdwara.
The ISIS terrorist group, which has targeted Sikhs before in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the latest attack.
The group issued a statement confirming that its members carried out the attack on Sikhs in Kabul city, Khaama Press News Agency reported.
Photos from the blast scene showed security forces carrying wounded people away on stretchers. Some Afghan media outlets shared videos of the family members of victims waiting outside a city hospital in tears.
Police in Kabul said that at least 11 children were rescued from the gurdwara.
Sikh lawmaker Nardendar Singh Khalsa told reporters that up to 150 people were praying inside the gurdwara when it came under attack.
Khalsa, the only representative of the Sikh community in Afghanistan said he received a call from a worshipper inside the gurdwara, informing him about the attack.
"I rushed over to help. There were about 150 worshippers inside the gurdwara at the time of the attack," he was quoted as saying by the official Bakhtar News Agency.
"Afghan forces have cleared the first floor of a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul. A number of people have been rescued who were trapped inside the building," said Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack on the gurdwara, TOLOnews reported.
"The attack on the religious sites shows the extreme weakness of the enemy, religious sites should not be vulnerable to attacks and violence, it quoted Ghani as saying.
The president's spokesperson described the attack as "yet another heartless, cowardly terrorist attack on a worshipping place in Kabul. The Afghan government strongly condemns today's senseless attack on Dharamsala Sikh temple.
"Our hearts go out to the families of the victims of this heinous act," the spokesperson said.