India on Wednesday condemned the terror attack on a gurdwara in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, saying that the “cowardly” incident, that has happened at the time when the world is struggling to combat the coronavirus pandemic, shows the “diabolical mindset” of perpetrators. At least 11 people were killed when unidentified suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the gurudwara.
Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India condemns the “heinous attack” on places of worship of minority communities. “We strongly condemns the heinous terror attack on a Gurudwara in Kabul,” he tweeted. “Such cowardly attacks on places of worship of minority community especially at this time is reflective of the diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers.”
The attack, which took place in the Shor Bazaar area of Kabul, triggered a military confrontation between the security forces and the attackers, with Afghan special forces blocking off the area to avoid more casualties, Interior Ministry Spokesperson Tariq Arian was quoted as saying by AP.
Narender Singh Khalsa, a member of Parliament in Afghanistan, said up to 200 people were trapped inside the gurdwara at the time of the attack which took place early in the morning. “Three suicide bombers entered a dharamsala,” he said, referring to a sanctuary area in the gurdwara compound. “The gunmen started their attack at a time when the dharamsala was full of worshippers,”
The identity of the attackers was not immediately clear but Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid in a message on Twitter denied responsibility for the attack.
Indian minister Hardeep Singh Puri condemned the attack. “These killings are a grim reminder of atrocities that continue to be inflicted upon religious minorities in some countries and the urgency with which their lives and religious freedom have to be safeguarded,” he tweeted.
Sikhs constitute a small religious minority in Afghanistan with fewer than 300 families and have been the target of violent attacks in the past. Nineteen people were killed in July 2018, when a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus was attacked by an Islamic State suicide bomber while on their way to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
Under the Taliban regime of late 1990s, Sikhs were segregated and were asked to identify themselves by wearing yellow bands around their arms. However, the law was not enforced.