At least 2 killed in attack at Gurudwara in Afghanistan's Kabul

Kabul [Afghanistan], June 18 (ANI): At least two civilians, including a Sikh man and a Muslim security guard, died after unidentified assailants attacked a Gurudwara in Afghanistan's Kabul city on Saturday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in a statement denounced the cowardly attack on the gurudwara and said that India is closely monitoring developments in Kabul. "The cowardly attack on Gurudwara should be condemned in the strongest terms by all. We've been closely monitoring developments since the news of the attack was received. Our first and foremost concern is for the welfare of the community," Jaishankar tweeted.

Initial inputs suggested that an explosion took place outside the gate of the gurdwara early this morning killing at least two people. Another explosion was later heard from inside the complex and some shops attached to the gurdwara caught fire. No group has claimed responsibility so far.

Photographs and videos shared by Afghanistan news outlet Tolo News showed thick black plumes of smoke billowing out from the area.

Xinhua News Agency, citing sources reported that two people had lost their lives in the first blast. Three soldiers, too, reportedly sustained injuries, Xinhua said.

According to sources, around 25 to 30 people were present inside the Kabul gurudwara complex for their morning prayers when the attackers entered the premises. Around 10-15 people managed to escape but the gurdwara's guard, identified as Ahmad, was killed by the assailants. Sources also said that seven or eight people were still believed to be trapped inside.

Later in the day, visuals on social media posted by onlookers showed people walking barefoot carrying the Holy Guru Granth Sahib on their heads to a different location. The Sikhs consider the Saroop, a physical copy of the Guru Granth Sahib as a living guru. The transportation of Guru Granth Sahib is governed by a strict code of conduct and as a mark of respect, the Guru Granth Sahib is carried on the head, and the person walks barefoot.

"The sound of explosions was heard in Karte Parwan area of Kabul city. Details about the nature and casualties of this incident are not yet known," Afghanistan's Tolo News tweeted.

Religious minorities in Afghanistan, including the Sikh community, have been targets of violence in Afghanistan.

In October, last year 15 to 20 terrorists entered a Gurdwara in the Kart-e-Parwan District of Kabul and tied up the guards.

In March 2020, a deadly attack took place at Sri Guru Har Rai Sahib gurudwara in Kabul's Short Bazaar area in which 27 Sikhs were killed and several were injured. Islamic State terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann took to Twitter to post: "Have heard reports of shots being fired at devotees, I'm praying for everyone's safety. I urge PM @narendramodi ji and @MEAIndia for immediate assistance to ensure the safety of minorities in Kabul."