KABUL: Atleast 25 people died and 8 were wounded as a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital of Kabul was attacked by unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers on Wednesday, the Afghan government said.
According to the government, all the attackers were killed by the Afghan security forces.
Several hours after the early morning attack was launched, Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said in a message to journalists an operation by the security forces was over and all of the attackers had been killed. He did not say how many.
The ministry later said 25 people who had been in the religious compound had been killed, eight wounded and 80 rescued.
Sikhs have been the target of attack by militants before in South Asia. A Taliban spokesman, in a message on Twitter, denied responsibility for the attack.
Narender Singh Khalsa, a member of parliament who represents the tiny Sikh community, earlier said he had reports that four people had been killed and up to 200 people trapped inside the temple in the early morning attack.
“Three suicide bombers entered a dharamsala,” he said, referring to a sanctuary area in a temple compound.
“The gunmen started their attack at a time when the dharamsala was full of worshippers,” he said.
The attack comes a day after the United States said it would cut its aid to the government by $1 billion over frustrations that feuding political leaders could not reach an agreement and form a team to negotiate with the Taliban.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said Afghan security forces had cleared one floor of the complex and were moving slowly to try and avoid civilian casualties.
Sikhs are a small religious minority in Afghanistan with numbers fewer than 300 families.
In 2018, a suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by the Daesh militant group killed more than a dozen people in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
The United States last month struck a deal with the Taliban on the withdrawal of US-led international troops but the agreement does not include Daesh militants.
Pakistan condemns attack
Pakistan strongly condemned the ‘heinous terrorist attack’ on Gurdwara (Sikh temple) on Wednesday, said the Foreign Office.
“Such despicable attacks have no political, religious or moral justification and must be rejected outright,”according to the FO.
The FO said that Pakistan condemns terrorism in ‘all its forms and manifestations’, adding that all places of worship must be respected.
“Our hearts go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in this inhuman act and we pray for the swiftest recovery of the injured. We also express our abiding solidarity with the fraternal people of Afghanistan,” read the official statement from the ministry.
With input from REUTERS.