Pak-backed Haqqani group likely behind Kabul gurudwara attack

Pak-backed Haqqani group likely behind Kabul gurudwara attack
An Afghan Sikh cries inside a Sikh religious complex after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan March 25, 2020.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
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Just weeks after a historic deal between the US and the Taliban to bring lasting peace to Afghanistan, a heavily-armed suicide bomber stormed his way into a prominent gurudwara in Kabul and opened fire, killing twenty-five people on Wednesday.

India strongly condemned the terror attack, saying "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.”

Security personnel inspect the gurudwara following a gun attack in Kabul on March 25, 2020.
Security personnel inspect the gurudwara following a gun attack in Kabul on March 25, 2020. (Photo by STR / AFP)

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the Indian Embassy in Kabul is in touch with family members of the victims of the dastardly terror attack.

"Understandable grief and anger at the cowardly terrorist attack on Gurudwara in #Kabul. Our Embassy @IndianEmbKabul is in continuous touch with the families of those killed and injured," Jaishankar tweeted.

The external affairs minister said efforts were on to bring back mortal remains of Tian Singh, a 71-year-old Delhi resident, from Kabul.

India's Ambassador to Afghanistan Vinay Kumar on Thursday visited the Sikh gurdwara and offered condolences to families of the victims of the horrific attack.

"Amb @vkumar1969 visited the gurudwara and met community leaders, elders and families of the victims of a terrorist attack. He shared their grief and offered condolences. He was told that the injured are receiving satisfactory treatment," the Indian embassy in Afghanistan said in a tweet.

Pak-backed Haqqani group likely behind Kabul gurudwara attack
An Afghan Sikh inspects a damaged window inside a Sikh religious complex after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan March 25, 2020.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

Prime Minister Modi said on Wednesday that he was "saddened" by the attack on the gurdwara when 150 worshippers were inside the building. 

"I am saddened by today's terror attack at Gurudwara in Kabul. I express my condolences to the families of all the deceased," he said in a tweet.

The MEA said 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.

Pak-backed Haqqani group likely behind Kabul gurudwara attack
An Afghan policeman inspects outside of a Sikh religious complex after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan March 25, 2020.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

UN condemns the attack on Sikhs

The United Nations has condemned the terrorist attack with the UN chief calling for perpetrators of such crimes to be held accountable and the world body emphasising that there can be no justification for the killing of civilians at a religious house.

In a tweet, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it is "outraged" by the attack. It is one of the deadliest attacks on the minority Sikh community in the strife-torn country.

While Islamic State (IS) terror group, which has targeted Sikhs before in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, Indian security establishments believe the actual perpetrators of the attack are the Pakistan-backed Haqqani group.

"The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan and will continue supporting efforts to bring peace to their country, Secretary-General Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Wednesday.

An Afghan policeman inspects outside of a Sikh religious complex after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan March 25, 2020.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail
Afghan policemen inspect inside a Sikh religious complex after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan March 25, 2020.REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail

High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Miguel Angel Moratinos expressed his "dismay" at the terrorist attack at the Gurudwara, which killed 25 victims, including a child.

The "despicable attack comes at a time when the world is facing a pandemic which adversely impacts all of us, requiring us to stand together as "One Humanity', Moratinos said.

He stressed that attacks targeting sacred sites and worshippers are intolerable and have to stop. Recalling the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, he called on all governments and relevant stakeholders to support the implementation of the plan to guarantee the sanctity of worship places and the safety of worshipers.

Moratinos said the latest attack adds to an expanding number of attacks targeting various faith communities around the world. He reiterated that such outrageous acts of terror should not dissuade us from working together to promote solidarity, respect, and peace globally.

On behalf of the UNAOC, the High Representative expressed his condolences to the victims' families and conveys his solidarity to the people and the Government of Afghanistan.

Sikhs have been the target of attacks by Islamist militants before in Afghanistan. In July 2018, ISIS terrorists bombed a gathering of Sikhs and Hindus in the eastern city of Jalalabad, killing 19 people and injuring 20. Awtar Singh Khalsa, one of the country's best-known Sikh politicians then, was among those killed in the attack.

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