NEW DELHI :
India on Wednesday condemned the terror attack on a gurudwara in Afghanistan that killed 11 devotees and wounded as many, in what is seen as one of the deadliest attacks on the Sikh community in the country.
The attack took place on the gurudwara in Shor Bazar area of Kabul when about 150 worshippers including children had gathered for morning prayers, news reports said. Unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers stormed the gurdwara killing at least 11, Afghanistan’s Tolo News said.
"Three attackers are still fighting with security forces and one has been shot. Foreign troops have also responded to the attack on Dharamshala, a Sikh temple in PD1," Tolo News later said in a Twitter post.
The Taliban said none of its cadres were involved in targeting the gurudwara. The Taliban’s Qatar based spokesman Suhail Shaheen in response to an email query from Mint said: “We have not attacked and it is not our policy to attack minorities’ religious places."
Responsibility for the attack was later claimed by the Islamic State, an AFP report said.
Slamming the attack, New Delhi said, “Such cowardly attacks, on the places of religious worship of the minority community, especially at this time of COVID-19 pandemic, is reflective of the diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers." The reference was to the coronavirus pandemic crippling the health systems of countries across the globe.
“We convey our sincerest condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased and wish speedy recovery to the injured. India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan," the Indian foreign ministry statement said.
“We commend the brave Afghan security forces for their valorous response to the attack and their exemplary courage and dedication to protect the Afghan people and secure the country. India stands in solidarity with the people, the government and the security forces of Afghanistan in their efforts for bringing peace and security to the country," it added.
The attack comes at a time when the rebel Taliban and the Afghan government are in talks for the release of prisoners being held by the other side, a key condition for the start of intra-Afghan peace talks. The release of prisoners was a key understanding in the pact signed between the US and the Taliban on 29 February that would allow the US to reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan. The Kabul government headed by Ashraf Ghani had refused to release 5,000 prisoners as demanded by the Taliban. Ghani had instead offered to set free 1,500 and then release the others in groups of 500 as the intra-Afghan talks progressed.
Meanwhile the US on Wednesday also condemned the attack on the Gurudwara in Kabul.
“The US condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh temple and community center in Kabul today. We mourn the deceased and will hold the wounded, their families, and their community close to our hearts," Alice G Wells Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in the US State department said in a Twitter post.