On 25 March 2020, ISIS-Haqqani network gunmen and suicide bombers attacked the Gurdwara Har Rai Sahib (a Sikh shrine) in Kabul, Afghanistan.[1][2]

Kabul gurdwara attack
Part of the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021)
Kabul gurdwara attack is located in Kabul
Kabul gurdwara attack
Kabul gurdwara attack (Kabul)
LocationGurdwara Har Rai Sahib, Shor Bazaar, Kabul, Afghanistan
Coordinates34°30′43″N 69°11′13″E / 34.512°N 69.187°E / 34.512; 69.187
DateMarch 25, 2020 (2020-03-25)
07:45 – 14:00 (AFT (UTC+04:30))
TargetSikhs
Attack type
Shooting, suicide bombings
Deaths25
Injured8+
PerpetratorsJoint cell of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province and Haqqani network members
AssailantsAbu Khalid al-Hindi

About 200 worshipers were reported to have been in the building, in which 25 Sikh worshippers were killed and leaving at least 8 wounded after an hour-long siege which ended in all assailants being killed by responding security forces.[3][4][5] At least one child was said to have been among people who were killed, according to the ministry of interior's statement.[6]

The Islamic extremist and militant organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has claimed responsibility.[7] The gunmen were identified as Abu Khalid al-Hind and Murshid Mohammed T.K.J both Indian citizens from the state of Kerala.[8] Abu Khalid al-Hindi whose real name is Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal and Murshid Mohammed T.K.J hail from Kasargod in Kerala, India and had joined ISIS like many others from his state. Owing to the large number of youth joining ISIS from Kerala, ISIS reportedly opened a Hind division to accumulate the Malayalam speaking fighters who had difficulty in communicating with other fighters.

Attack edit

The attacks started in the gurdwara's sanctuary area where 200 worshipers were praying at about 7:45 am interrupting worship that started an hour earlier. The attackers threw grenades and broke into the shrine then started opening fire on people.[9] Afterwards, the attackers took hostages inside of the building, exchanging fire with security forces till all three attackers were killed and at least 80 hostages freed after a shootout that lasted for 6 hours.[4][10][11] After the attack, Afghan and NATO soldiers helped with the clearance operation.

On Thursday, as families of the deceased and members of the community were conveying the bodies to the burial grounds in the Qalacha area in the afternoon, another blast was reported to have gone off remotely, near the crowd.[12] There were no casualties from the blast.[13]

This was not the first such attack on Sikhs; a similar Islamic State attack on Sikhs killed many in Jalalabad in 2018. Gurdwaras have also been damaged previously, such as during the Battle of Jalalabad (1989) and the Afghan Civil War of the 1990s.

Perpetrator edit

Initial government reports suggested that Ashraf Ghani's government blamed Haqqani network for the attack, but Taliban denied its role.[14] Shortly after, the SITE Intelligence Group announced that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province claimed responsibility right after the attack through various social media accounts.[15][16] The gunman was identified as Abu Khalid al-Hindi, an Indian citizen from Padne in the Kasargod district of Kerala state.[8][17] An Indian source revealed al-Hindi was wanted in a 2016 NIA case, and had previously worked as a shopkeeper in his native town.[17] The Afghan NDS said the perpetrator left India in 2018 to join ISIS Khorasan in Afghanistan.[18] Indian intelligence agencies identified him as Mohammed Sajid Kuthirummal.[19]

In a communique, the ISIS said the attack was carried out in response to the "Indian government's actions in Jammu and Kashmir".[20] The attack mastermind and ISIS-K emir Abdullah Orakzai, alias Aslam Farooqi, was captured by the National Directorate of Security on 4 April along with 19 others.[21]

The Afghan National Directorate of Security in April arrested a group of eight that included operatives from both ISIS-K and Haqqani network. Another five members were killed in the raid which happened in Kabul. The group was involved in many attacks including on the gurdwara, the rocket attack on a ceremony during which Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as the President in March 2020 and a rocket attack on Bagram Airfield in April.[22] It was reported that one of the arrested ISIS militants was linked to Pakistan's ISI.[23][24]

Casualties edit

This assault resulted in the death of 25 civilians including one child, while another eight were wounded according to the ministry of interior's statement.[25]

One of those who died in the attack is Tian Singh, a 71-year old Indian citizen from Delhi whose family members demanded that his remains should be brought to India.[26][27]

Reactions edit

The attack was condemned by multiple people worldwide including;

  • India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi who said: "I am saddened by the terror attack at the Gurudwara in Kabul. I express my condolences to the families of all the deceased".
  • India's Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted on Twitter saying: "The terrorist attack on a Sikh Gurudwara in Kabul is extremely reprehensible. My heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their loved ones in this heinous act against humanity. I also pray for the speedy recovery of the injured". [28]
  • Afghanistan Ministry Spokesman tweeted saying: "The enemy has once again exposed its savage character by launching today's terrorist attacks on our dear countrymen. Terrorists will surely be punished." [29][30]
  • Amnesty International South Asia tweeted: "We are shocked and disheartened to see the attack against the Sikh minority today in Kabul. They are a small religious community in Afghanistan who were persecuted by the Taliban when the [group] was in power. The authorities have a responsibility to protect minorities and their places of worship in Afghanistan. The suspected perpetrators must be held accountable through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty." [31]
  • Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement highlighting: "Such despicable attacks have no political, religious or moral justification and must be rejected outright."[32]
  • U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said: "Attacks against civilians are unacceptable and those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable". [33][34]
  • External Affairs Ministry of India said: "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." [35]
  • United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: "I want to address the ISIS-K claimed attack in Afghanistan. The United States condemns the horrific ISIS-K claimed attack on a Sikh temple and community center in Kabul this morning which took the lives of more than two dozen innocent people. The Afghan people deserve a future free from ISIS-K and other terrorist activity." [36]
  • Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack saying: "The attack on the religious sites shows the extreme weakness of the enemy, religious sites should not be vulnerable to attacks and violence." [37]
  • Acting Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells tweeted: "The US condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific ISIS-claimed attack on a Sikh temple and community centre in Kabul today. We mourn the deceased and will hold the wounded, their families, and their community close to our hearts." [38]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "11 killed in Kabul gurdwara attack, IS claims responsibility". Yudhvir Rana. The Times of India. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  2. ^ "Afghanistan conflict: Militants in deadly attack on Sikh temple in Kabul". BBC News. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Kabul Sikh temple siege: Dozens killed in attack claimed by ISIL". www.aljazeera.com. Al-Jazeera. Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Gunmen in Afghanistan kill 25 at Sikh complex, Islamic State claims responsibility". Reuters. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Gunmen attack Sikh religious complex in Kabul, says Afghan official". Archived from the original on 2020-03-26. Retrieved 2020-03-26.
  6. ^ "25 killed as Islamic State gunman takes hostages in Kabul Sikh temple". The Telegraph. March 25, 2020 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  7. ^ "Islamic State claims Kabul attack on Sikh minority". Sayed Salahuddin. Washington Post. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b Akhgar, Tameem (26 March 2020). "Bomb disrupts funeral for 25 Sikhs killed in Afghan capital". ABC News. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  9. ^ Graham-Harrison, Emma (March 25, 2020). "Afghanistan: dozens killed in attack on Kabul Sikh temple". The Guardian – via www.theguardian.com.
  10. ^ "Gunmen Kill 25 At Kabul Sikh Temple; Islamic State Claims Responsibility". Radio Free Europe - Radio Liberty. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Afghanistan: dozens killed in attack on Kabul Sikh temple". TheGuardian.com. 25 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Solidarity for Sikhs after Afghanistan massacre".
  13. ^ "Bomb Disrupts Funeral for 25 Sikhs Killed in Afghan Capital - The New York Times". www.nytimes.com. Archived from the original on 2020-03-26.
  14. ^ Bureau, ABP News (March 25, 2020). "Several Sikhs Feared Dead In Terror Attack At Kabul Gurudwara; IS Claims Strike". news.abplive.com.
  15. ^ "Gunmen attack Sikh religious gathering in Kabul, killing at least 4". NBC News.
  16. ^ "Islamic State claims assault on Sikh temple in Afghan capital | FDD's Long War Journal". www.longwarjournal.org. March 26, 2020.
  17. ^ a b "IS recruit for Kabul gurdwara attack was a Kerala shopkeeper". Live Mint. 27 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  18. ^ "New details emerge regarding the Indian man who attacked the Afghan Sikhs in Kabul". Khaama Press. 28 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Abu Khalid Al-Hindi, Terrorist Responsible for Kabul Gurdwara Attack Was IS Recruit from Kerala". 28 March 2020.
  20. ^ "Islamic State Gunman Kills 25 in Attack on Sikhs in Kabul". US News. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
  21. ^ "Afghan forces arrest leader of IS in connection with Gurudwara attack | DD News". Archived from the original on 2020-04-06. Retrieved 2020-04-05.
  22. ^ Sediqi, Abdul Qadir (6 May 2020). "Members of Islamic State-Haqqani network arrested over Kabul attacks". Reuters.
  23. ^ "Pakistan militant with ISI link held in Afghan for ISIS-claimed terror attack on Kabul gurdwara". Deccan Herald. 5 April 2020.
  24. ^ "Pak-backed terror module in Afghanistan that targeted India busted, 37 arrested". Hindustan Times. 5 April 2020.
  25. ^ "25 killed as Islamic State gunman takes hostages in Kabul Sikh temple". The Telegraph. 25 March 2020.
  26. ^ "S Jaishankar condemns Kabul Gurudwara attack, says working on return of mortal remains of Tian Singh". WION.
  27. ^ "India in touch with families of those killed and injured in Kabul terror attack: MEA". The Economic Times. March 26, 2020.
  28. ^ "Kabul gurdwara attack: Death toll rises to 25, PM Modi expresses condolences". March 25, 2020.
  29. ^ Dwyer, Colin (25 March 2020). "At Least 25 People Dead After Hours-Long Attack On Sikh Complex In Kabul". NPR.org.
  30. ^ Rahimi, Nasrat (March 25, 2020). "دښمن یو ځل بیا زموږ پر گرانو هېوادوالو د نننى تروریستي حملې په تر سره کولو سره خپله وحشي څېره څرگنده کړه. ترهگر به د خپلو بشری جنایتونو د تر سره کولو سزا هرو مرو گوري. همدارنگه خپلو ټولو سک وروڼو او خویندو ته د زړه له تله تسلیت وایم او په غم کې یې ځان شریک بولم. @DrAnarkaliH".
  31. ^ Asia, Amnesty International South (March 24, 2020). "The authorities have a responsibility to protect minorities and their places of worship in Afghanistan. The suspected perpetrators must be held accountable through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty".
  32. ^ "Condemnation of terrorist attack on Gurdwara in Kabul – Ministry of Foreign Affairs".
  33. ^ Akhgar, Tameem; AP, Rahim Faiez. "Islamic State gunman kills 25 in attack on Sikhs in Kabul". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2020-03-26.
  34. ^ "UN Secretary-General condemns the attack in Kabul". UNAMA. March 26, 2020.
  35. ^ "India strongly reacts to suicide attack on Sikh temple in Kabul city". The Khaama Press News Agency. March 25, 2020.
  36. ^ "US Condemns "Horrific ISIS Attack" On Gurdwara In Afghanistan". NDTV.com.
  37. ^ Service, Tribune News. "25 killed in suicide bombing at Kabul gurdwara, IS owns it". Tribuneindia News Service.
  38. ^ "US condemns terrorist attack on Sikhs in Afghanistan". March 26, 2020.