Tue, 02 Jun 2020

KABUL -- A group of gunmen and suicide bombers have stormed a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital, killing at least four people.

It was not immediately clear how many gunmen were involved in the March 25 attack, which the Interior Ministry said was still under way.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant postings and groups, said Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack on the group's Aamaq media arm.

A Taliban spokesman had earlier denied responsibility for the attack.

A member of parliament, Narender Singh Khalsa, who represents Afghanistan's tiny Sikh community, told RFE/RL that at one point more than 150 people were trapped inside the compound during the early morning attack.

Khalsa said that the majority of the hostages were women and children who were gathering for the morning praying session.

'There are many families," he said.

The AP news agency reported that one of the dead was a child, whose body was brought to a Kabul hospital.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told RFE/RL that Afghan security forces had cordoned off the area and efforts were under way to clear the building of the assailants.

Arian said at least four attackers were exchanging fire with Afghan special forces. He added that some people were rescued by Afghan security forces and that the operation is proceeding cautiously to avoid harming the people inside the compound.

Sikhs, a small religious minority in Afghanistan that numbers fewer than 300 families, have been targeted by Islamist militants before.

A suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by Islamic State killed more than a dozen people in 2018 in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The United States last month struck a deal with the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S.-led international troops but the agreement does not include IS militants.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and TOLOnews.com

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

Sign up for Connecticut State News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!