Two Killed in Blasts at Kabul Gurudwara; 'Cowardly Attack,' Says Jaishankar

Taliban officials have confirmed the explosion, although it is not immediately clear who was behind the blast.

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New Delhi: India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar has called the explosive attack at a gurudwara in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul on the morning of Saturday, June 18, a “cowardly” act.

It has emerged that two people were killed and seven injured in the blasts.

A Taliban interior spokesman said attackers attempted to drive a car laden with explosives into the area. The vehicle detonated before reaching its target, he said.

A spokesman for Kabul‘s commander told Reuters that his forces had taken control of the area and cleared it of attackers. One Sikh worshipper had been killed in the attack and one Taliban fighter killed during the clearing operation, he added.

The news agency PTI has reported that at least two explosions were heard from the area of the gurudwara. Local broadcaster Tolo aired footage showing heavy grey fumes of smoke rising from the Karta Parwan area.

“We heard a huge blast in Kart-e-Parwan neighbourhood at around 6 am local time. The blast was followed by another explosion which occurred about half an hour after the first blast. The whole place has now been sealed off,” China’s state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an eyewitness as saying.

In response to media queries on the reported attacks on the Sikh worship site, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We are deeply concerned at the reports emanating from Kabul about an attack on a sacred Gurudwara in that city. We are closely monitoring the situation and waiting for further details on the unfolding developments.”

“There were around 30 people inside the temple,” a gurudwara official, Gornam Singh, had initially told Reuters.

It is not immediately clear who was behind the blast.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers say they have secured the country since taking power in August, but international officials and analysts say the risk of a resurgence in militancy remains. Multiple attacks have taken place in recent months, with some claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has strongly condemned the attack. “Attacks on civilians must cease immediately. UNAMA calls for protection of all minorities in Afghanistan, including Sikhs, Hazaras and Sufis,” it said.

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai also condemned the attack on Twitter, calling it a “terrorist incident.” Karzai called for the start of a national dialogue to establish long-term peace and stability, and pleaded for the country to be saved from suffering through the unity of all Afghans, according to Tolo News.

Sikhs are a tiny religious minority in largely Muslim Afghanistan, comprising around 300 family members before the fall of the country to the Taliban. Many had left the country in the wake of the takeover, according to community members and media reports.

The Sikh community, like other religious minorities, has been the continual target of violence in Afghanistan. An attack claimed by the Islamic State at another temple in Kabul in 2020 killed 25.

Saturday’s explosion follows a blast on Friday in the northern city of Kunduz at a mosque that killed one and injured two, according to authorities.

(With agency inputs)

Note: This is a developing story and is being updated as news comes in.