Politics IS claims to have attacked Sikh temple in Kabul,...

IS claims to have attacked Sikh temple in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan

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ISLAMABAD (AP) – The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital Kabul, killing at least one worshiper and wounding seven others.

IS made the claim in a statement posted on its Amac website late Saturday night. The “Sikh and Hindu Temple” was attacked in response to an insult by an Indian government official to the Prophet Muhammad, a major figure in Islam. The officer was not named in it.

Afghan officials say gunmen stormed a Sikh shrine known as the Gurdwara on Saturday morning and opened fire on Taliban militants trying to protect the building.

No casualties were reported though a vehicle laden with explosives was detonated outside the temple. Earlier, police said the gunmen threw a hand grenade, setting it on fire near the temple gate.

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IS said Abu Mohammed al-Taji, a member of the group, had entered the temple after killing a guard and then targeted people inside with machine-gun fire and hand grenades. IS militants outside the temple detonated four explosives and a car bomb targeting a patrol of a Taliban militia trying to protect the temple. The war ended three hours later, the Amak report said.

Islamic State Group

  • At least one person has been killed in an attack on a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital

  • One killed in mosque blast in northern Afghanistan

  • A senior IS leader has been captured in a US-led military offensive in Syria

  • A Swiss man has been charged in connection with the alleged murder of a Turkish-Swiss man

  • The Sikh Alliance, the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States, said the gurudwara had been severely damaged by the attack.

    “The recurring tragic violence targeting the Afghan Sikh community is devastating, but completely predictable and preventable,” the group’s executive director Anisha Singh said in a statement late Saturday. “The international community, and especially the United States, has distanced itself from urgently needed efforts to protect and safely rehabilitate all Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.”

    Videos posted on social media show black smoke billowing from a temple in the vicinity of Bagh-e Bala in Kabul and the sound of gunfire.

    Kabul police said the police operation ended after the last attacker was killed several hours after the attack began. One Sikh was killed and seven others were injured in the attack, which was reported by Taliban security forces. It is not clear how many IS militants were involved in the shootings with the Taliban and how many were killed.

    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 over the distribution of humanitarian aid. The Indian delegation was led by Foreign Secretary JP Singh.

    It was not immediately clear whether JP Singh was the “Hindu” mentioned by IS in his statement on Saturday or the remarks he made to provoke the IS attack. It is also unclear why the militant group is targeting a Sikh temple in retaliation for remarks made by an Indian official.

    An Islamic State group affiliate, also known as Islamic State or IS-K, has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014 in the province of Khorasan. This is considered to be the biggest security challenge facing the Taliban rulers in the country who have seized power in Kabul and other parts of the country. Last August. They launched an extensive crackdown on ISIS in eastern Afghanistan.

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    In March 2020, a lone IS gunman stormed another Sikh temple in Kabul, killing 25 worshipers, including a child, and injuring eight others. As many as 80 devotees were trapped inside the gurudwara when a gunman looted grenades and fired at them with an automatic rifle.

    The Sikh alliance has been advocating for the resettlement of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus since the 2020 invasion. During his presidential campaign, President Joe Biden supported the resettlement of these families. Legislators on both sides of the aisle in the House and Senate also argued for rehabilitation. However, despite these demonstrations of support, Afghan Sikhs and Hindus did little to help those fleeing the country or those temporarily relocated to other countries, including India.

    There were less than 700 Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan at the time of the 2020 invasion. Since then, dozens of families have been abandoned, but many cannot afford to move and are living in Afghanistan, mainly in Kabul, Jalalabad and Ghazni.

    ___

    Mamoon Youssef, an Associated Press reporter in Cairo, contributed to the report.

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