Gunmen stormed a Sikh temple in the Afghan capital, killing at least one member of the community and injuring seven others, the interior ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Abdul Nafi Takor said the attackers used at least one grenade in Saturday’s attack, starting a fire in the compound. A few minutes later, a car bomb exploded in the area but caused no casualties, he added.
“One of our Sikh brothers was killed and seven others [were] injured in the attack,” Takor said in a statement.
Two of the attackers were killed during an operation to secure the temple after the raid, he said, and a Taliban fighter was also killed.
The number of bombings has declined across the country since the Taliban took power in August, but there have been several fatal attacks in recent months.
“I heard gunshots and explosions coming from the gurdwara,” said Gurnam Singh, a Sikh community leader.
Singh, who was close to the scene, said the death toll could rise. “Usually at this time of the morning we have several Sikh worshipers who come to offer prayers at the gurdwara,” he said.
Footage posted to social media after the attack showed broken pillars and walls in the temple’s main prayer hall, with debris strewn across the floor. A section of a building near the temple also caught fire, an Agence France-Presse correspondent in the area reported.
The windows of several residential buildings were shattered by the impact of the car bomb and nearby streets were littered with shattered glass. Taliban forces cordoned off the area, preventing journalists from speaking to residents or witnesses.
A Taliban fighter deployed in the area said some Sikhs present in the temple at the time of the attack managed to escape through a back door. Some of Kabul’s other Sikh temples were closed for security reasons as news of the attack spread.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which came days after an Indian delegation visited Kabul to discuss the distribution of India’s humanitarian aid to Afghanistan .
According to Afghan and Indian media, the delegation also discussed the possibility of reopening the Indian embassy with Taliban officials.
Delhi, which had close ties with the previous US-backed Afghan government, closed its mission in Kabul and evacuated all diplomatic and other personnel when the Taliban took over Afghanistan on August 15 last year. .
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar condemned Saturday’s “cowardly attack” on the temple.
The number of Sikhs living in Afghanistan has fallen to around 200 from around half a million in the 1970s.
The community has faced repeated attacks. At least 25 people were killed in March 2020 when gunmen stormed a temple.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, which forced many Sikhs to leave the country even before the Taliban returned to power.
The jihadist group has a history of targeting Afghan Sikhs, Hindus and members of other minority communities, including Shia Muslims and Sufis.
He claimed responsibility for part of a series of bombings during Ramadan, which ended in Afghanistan on April 30.
The deadliest was in the northern town of Kunduz, where a bomb targeting Sufi worshipers killed at least 36 people at a mosque.
Like the Taliban, the Islamic State is a Sunni Islamist group, but the two are bitter rivals.
The Taliban have pursued an Afghanistan without foreign forces, while the Islamic State wants a caliphate stretching from Turkey to Pakistan and beyond. Taliban officials insist their forces defeated the group, but analysts say it remains a major security challenge.