One killed in an attack on a Sikh temple in Afghanistan

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A member of the Sikh community was killed and seven others were injured on Saturday following a grenade attack by a group of armed men on a temple in Kabul.

Around 0630 (0300 GMT), armed men entered a Sikh temple in the west of the city and attacked “a guard” there with a grenade, Interior Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said in a statement.

One member of the Sikh community was killed and seven others were injured, it added.

Taliban forces fighters rushed to the scene, and one of them was killed, the spokesman said. “Two of the attackers died during the intervention.”

A few minutes after the attack, a car bomb exploded near the temple, causing no casualties, Abdul Nafi Takor added.

“I heard shots and explosions coming from the ‘gurdwara,'” the Sikh temple, Gurnam Singh, leader of this religious community in Kabul, told AFP. “Normally at this time in the morning we have several Sikh devotees who come to the temple to pray.”

After the attack a fire broke out.

Videos posted on social media show a column of black smoke rising above the scene and gunshots are heard.

In Afghanistan, an almost entirely Muslim country, there are about 200 Sikhs, up from half a million in the 1970s.

In recent years, the Afghan Sikh community has been the target of several attacks.

The deadliest was in March 2020, when gunmen stormed a temple in Kabul, killing at least 25 people. The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

The IS had already attacked this minority in a suicide attack in July 2018 in Jalalabad, in the east of the country, in which 19 people died.

Forty years of war, poverty and discrimination have caused the exodus of the Afghan Sikh community. After the Taliban came to power in Kabul last August, almost a hundred of them went into exile.

The number of attacks, often targeting minority religious communities, has decreased in the country since the arrival of the Taliban.

But a series of bomb attacks, killing dozens of people, hit the country in late April, during the month of Ramadan, and again in late May.

Most were claimed by IS.

The Taliban are trying to downplay the threat from Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), the IS’s regional branch, and are waging an all-out battle against the group, which they have been fighting for years.

They also increased the number of raids, especially in the province of Nangarhar (east), and arrested hundreds of men accused of belonging to the group.

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