At least 25 people were yesterday killed in an attack on a Sikh-Hindu temple in Afghanistan’s capital where worshippers were offering morning prayers, the latest assault claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.
The incident came as the nation reels from a US$1 billion cut in US aid and struggles with a raging insurgency, political deadlock and rising coronavirus cases.
Witness Raju Singh Sonny told reporters that a man dressed in a police uniform burst into the temple in central Kabul, shot a guard and started attacking worshippers in the main hall.
“Several other attackers also entered the building and they were going from room to room shooting people,” Sonny said.
Only a few thousand Sikhs and Hindus are estimated to reside in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.
The assault started about 7:45am, Afghan Ministry of Interior Affairs spokesman Tariq Arian said.
There were conflicting accounts about how many gunmen were involved, with security sources giving differing numbers between one and four. At least one attacker was subsequently killed by security forces in an hours-long clearing operation.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility, the SITE Intelligence Group said.
The Taliban denied any involvement.
Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh member of the Afghan parliament, said that about 150 people had been inside the temple, where several families also live and worshippers gather for morning prayers.
“Some people inside the temple are hiding and their phones are off,” Honaryar said while the attack was ongoing.
Arian said that 25 civilians had been killed and eight others wounded, while 80 people had been rescued from the temple.
Graphic images posted online showed several bodies as well as terrified people who appeared to be Sikhs running from the scene.
“Such cowardly attacks on the places of religious worship of the minority community, especially at this time of [the coronavirus] pandemic, is reflective of the diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers,” the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
Sikhism and Hinduism are rooted in India.
The Islamic State has a history of targeting Afghan Sikhs and Hindus including a suicide bombing in Jalalabad in July 2018 that killed 19 people and wounded 21.
In the past few months, the group has suffered mounting setbacks after being hunted by US and Afghan forces as well as Taliban offensives targeting their fighters, but it still retains the ability to launch major assaults on urban centers.
SECURITY CONCERNS: The Telecom Technology Center ran black-box tests for the Executive Yuan on devices and software from Chinese, US and South Korean firms Network devices from several Chinese manufacturers are insecure and allow personal information to be leaked, testing commissioned by the Executive Yuan has shown. A variety of devices and software, including apps, from Chinese, US and South Korean manufacturers that are used by government agencies at the central and local level were subjected to black-box testing — in which the functionality of an application is examined without knowing about its internal structure, an information-security official said yesterday on condition of anonymity. The Telecom Technology Center conducted the tests, which simulated cyberattacks, to determine their resilience to the attacks, the official said. The center
Americans awoke yesterday to charred and glass-strewn streets in dozens of cities after another night of unrest fueled by rage over the mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of police, who responded to the violence with tear gas and rubber bullets. Tens of thousands marched peacefully through streets to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on Monday last week after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on his neck until he stopped breathing. However, many demonstrations sank into chaos as night fell: Vehicles and businesses were torched. The words “I can’t breathe” were
The nation marked its 49th day with no new domestic COVID-19 cases yesterday, and there were no new imported cases, but that does not mean the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) can relax its attention, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said yesterday in Tainan as he and a team of health officials wrapped up a weekend visit to the city. The visit is part of the center’s efforts to promote domestic travel under the “new disease prevention lifestyle.” Among the 442 confirmed cases, 423 have been released from isolation and 12 people remain hospitalized, Chen
EXTRA INVITATIONS: Russia, Australia, South Korea and India would be asked to a later summit dedicated to countering China, Donald Trump said US President Donald Trump has been forced to cancel a planned face-to-face summit of G7 leaders this month and now wants to host an expanded meeting in September dedicated to countering China to which Russian President Vladimir Putin would be invited. Trump on Saturday announced that he had canceled the June meeting, which he had billed as a symbol of the US “transitioning back to greatness,” after German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him in a telephone call that she saw the summit in Washington as a health risk. Hundreds of security staff, journalists and officials also attend the two-day summits. Reports suggest