Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

IS claims attack on Sikh temple in Kabul

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul which killed at least one worshipper and injured seven others (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul which killed at least one worshipper and injured seven others (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul which killed at least one worshipper and injured seven others.

IS made the claim in a statement posted on its Amaq website late on Saturday.

It said the assault on “the Sikh and Hindu temple” in Afghanistan’s capital was in response to alleged insults made against the Prophet Muhammad, the central figure of the Islamic religion, by an Indian government official. It did not name the official.

Gunmen attacked the Sikh house of worship, known as a gurdwara, on Saturday morning and a firefight between the attackers and Taliban fighters seeking to protect the building ensued, Afghan officials said.

A vehicle filled with explosives was detonated outside the temple but that resulted in no casualties. Before that, the gunmen threw a hand grenade which caused a fire near the temple’s gate, the officials said.

Afghanistan
A Sikh man who was injured by an explosion sits on the ground in front of the temple in Kabul (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

The IS said Abu Mohammed al-Tajiki, a member of the group, stormed the temple after killing the guard and then targeted the people inside with machine-gun fire and hand grenades.

IS fighters outside the temple detonated four explosive devices and a car bomb targeting patrols of Taliban militia who tried to protect the temple.

The battle ended after three hours, the Amaq report said.

The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh civil rights organisation based in the United States, said the gurdwara was significantly damaged by the attack.

Anisha Singh, the group’s executive director, said in a statement late on Saturday: “The recurring tragic violence targeting the Afghan Sikh community is devastating, but also entirely predictable and preventable.

“The international community, and in particular the United States, continues to fall short of urgently-needed efforts to protect and safely resettle all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.”

Videos posted on social media showed plumes of black smoke rising from the temple in Kabul’s Bagh-e Bala neighbourhood and gunfire could be heard.

Afghanistan
Taliban fighters guard the site of a blast in Kabul (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

Kabul police said their operation ended after the last attacker was killed several hours after the assault began. They said one Sikh was killed and seven others were injured in the attack and a Taliban security officer was killed during the rescue operation.

It was unclear how many IS militants were involved or how many were killed in the gunbattle with the Taliban.

Earlier this month, Indian officials held talks with the Taliban in Kabul for the first time since the group took control of the country last year on the distribution of humanitarian aid. The Indian delegation was led by JP Singh, a secretary in the External Affairs Ministry.

It was not immediately clear whether JP Singh was the “Hindu” the IS referred to in its statement on Saturday or what comments he might have made that provoked the IS attack. It was also unclear why the extremist organisation would target a Sikh temple in retaliation for comments made by an Indian official.

An Islamic State group affiliate, known as Islamic State in Khorasan Province or IS-K, has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014. It is seen as the greatest security challenge facing the country’s Taliban rulers, who seized power in Kabul and elsewhere in the country last August. They have launched a sweeping crackdown against the IS in eastern Afghanistan.

Afghanistan Explosion
Several explosions and gunfire ripped through a Sikh temple in Afghanistan’s capital (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP)

In March 2020, a lone IS gunman rampaged through a different Sikh temple in Kabul, killing 25 worshippers, including a child, and wounding eight others. As many as 80 worshippers were trapped inside the gurdwara as the gunman lobbed grenades and fired an automatic rifle into the crowd.

The Sikh Coalition has advocated for the resettlement of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus since the 2020 attack.

During his presidential campaign, President Joe Biden supported resettlement for these families. Politicians from both parties in the House and Senate also advocated for resettlement.

Despite these shows of support, however, little has been done to help Afghan Sikhs and Hindus to leave the country or assist those temporarily evacuated to nations including India.

There were fewer than 700 Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan at the time of the 2020 attack. Since then, dozens of families have left but many cannot financially afford to move and have remained in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul, Jalalabad and Ghazni.