Wed, 01 Apr 2020

Unidentified gunmen and suicide bombers have launched an attack on a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital, Kabul, trapping hundreds of people inside, officials told RFE/RL on March 25.

It was not immediately clear how many attackers there were or who they were. It was not known if there were any casualties.

A member of parliament, Narender Singh Khalsa, who represents Afghanistan's tiny Sikh community, told RFE/RL that more than 150 people were trapped inside the compound in the early morning attack.

Khalsa said that the majority of the hostages were women and children who were gathering for the morning praying session.

'There are many families," he said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told RFE/RL that Afghan security forces had cordoned off the area and efforts were under way to clear the building of assailants.

Arian said at least four attackers were exchanging fire with Afghan special forces. He added that some people were rescued by Afghan security forces and the operation is proceeding cautiously to avoid harming the people inside the compound.

A Taliban spokesman, in a message on Twitter, denied responsibility for the attack.

Sikhs, a small religious minority in Afghanistan that numbers fewer than 300 families, have been targeted by Islamist militants before.

A suicide bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group killed more than a dozen people in 2018 in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.

The United States last month struck a deal with the Taliban on the withdrawal of U.S.-led international troops but the agreement does not include IS militants.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, dpa, and TOLOnews.com

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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