Islamic State claims attack on Sikh temple in Kabul, killing two

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© Reuters. A Taliban militant walks into a house damaged by the blast after a vehicle carrying explosives detonates after a Sikh temple in Kabul, Afghanistan, was attacked on June 18, 2022.Reuters/Arikala

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(Correction to say Indian ruling party spokeswoman, not Indian government spokeswoman, at paragraph 2)

Muhammad Yunus Yawar

KABUL (Reuters) – The Islamic State claimed to have attacked a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, killing at least two people and wounding seven others, officials said, in a spate of violence targeting ethnic minorities and places of worship Another fatal incident in .

On an affiliated Telegram channel, the local affiliate of ISIS said the attack was in response to an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, an apparent reference to remarks made by a spokeswoman for India’s ruling party that have been criticized in many Muslim-majority countries. condemnation.

In images broadcast by national broadcaster Tolo, grey smoke billows in the area. An internal Taliban spokesman said the attackers loaded a car with explosives, but it detonated before it reached the target.

A temple official named Gornam Singh said there were about 30 people in the building at the time.

A spokesman for the Kabul commander said a Sikh devotee was killed in the attack and a Taliban fighter was killed as his forces took control of the area.

Since taking power in August, the Taliban have said they have strengthened security in Afghanistan and freed the country from the threat of militants, although international officials and analysts say the risk of a militant resurgence remains.

ISIS has claimed a number of attacks in recent months.

On Saturday morning, a suicide attacker charged with a machine gun and a grenade after killing a guard, the group said.

The militant group said other militants fought for more than three hours with Taliban fighters trying to intervene to protect the temple, targeting them with four explosive devices and a car bomb.

Saturday’s bombings were widely condemned as one of a series of attacks targeting ethnic minorities, and neighboring Pakistan issued a statement saying its government was “gravely concerned about the recent terrorist attacks on places of worship in Afghanistan”.

The United Nations mission to Afghanistan said in a statement that the country’s minorities need to be protected, and Indian President Narendra Modi said on Twitter (NYSE: ) that he was “shocked” by the attack. “.

In predominantly Muslim Afghanistan, Sikhs are a small religious minority, numbering around 300 families before the country fell to the Taliban. Many have left, according to community members and the media.

Like other religious minorities, Sikhs have been the target of violence in Afghanistan. ISIS also claimed a 2020 attack on another temple in Kabul that killed 25 people.

Saturday’s blasts followed an explosion a day earlier at a mosque in the northern city of Kunduz, killing one person and injuring two, according to authorities.

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