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Gunmen And Suicide Bombers Attack Sikh Temple In Kabul: At Least 11 Dead So Far

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Gunmen And Suicide Bombers Attack Sikh Temple In Kabul: At Least 11 Dead So Far

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UPDATE: ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

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On March 25th, Gunmen and suicide bombers have stormed a Sikh religious complex in the Afghan capital Kabul and were locked in an ongoing battle with security forces, the Afghan interior ministry said.

The attack began at 7:45 local time, and security forces immediately cordoned off the area while trying to counter it, Ministry of Interior spokesman Tariq Arian said.

At around 11:30 local time, security forces were still fighting with the 3 of the attackers, and 1 of them had been shot.

According to reports, at least 11 people have been killed by the attackers.

“People are stuck inside the building and (security forces) are trying to rescue them,” Arian told AFP news agency.

“There are about 150 people inside the temple. Families are living there and they usually gather to offer prayers in the mornings,” said Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh member of the Afghan parliament.

“Some people inside the temple are hiding and their phones are off. I am very concerned.”

Narindra Singh Khalsa, a parliamentarian from the minority Sikh community, told AP news agency he had been near the Gurdwara – the Sikh place of worship – when the attack happened and ran to the site. He said at least four people were killed.

Khalsa later told Reuters that many people were still inside the building. “The gunmen started their attack at a time when the Dharamsala was full of worshippers,” he said, referring to a sanctuary area in the temple compound.

There is a video purportedly showing an Afghan Sikh ask for help, while trapped.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the attack.

While no other group immediately claimed responsibility, ISIS terrorists frequently orchestrate assaults on the country’s religious minorities. Earlier in March, Afghanistan’s ISIS affiliate struck a gathering of minority Shiite Muslims in Kabul, killing 32 people.

In 2018, a suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by ISIL killed more than a dozen people in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

The attack comes as Afghanistan is facing several crisis that have put the country on the brink.

The US and the Taliban signed a deal last month that was supposed to pave the way for talks between the Afghan leadership and the Taliban, but with Kabul unable to agree who is in government, the talks have stalled.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul on March 24th in an attempt to mediate in a standoff between President Ashraf Ghan and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who also is proclaiming himself president following a contested election.

Pompeo, who condemned their “failure” to come to an agreement, said the US would immediately cut $1 billion and was “prepared” to pull another $1 billion in 2021, with further cuts possible after that.

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