At least 25 dead in attack on Afghan Sikh-Hindu temple

At minimum 25 men and women were being killed Wednesday in an assault on a Sikh-Hindu temple in Afghanistan’s cash where by worshippers were being providing early morning prayers, the most recent brutal assault claimed by the Islamic State group.

The incident, highlighting the country’s ongoing violence, arrived many hours ahead of Afghanistan’s Nationwide Safety Council announced that the Taliban and govt officials would keep a historic assembly facial area-to-encounter about a prisoner trade.

Along with a raging insurgency, impoverished Afghanistan is reeling from a enormous minimize in US assist even though it struggles with political deadlock and climbing coronavirus circumstances.

The Taliban denied any involvement in the most up-to-date attack, for which the Islamic Condition (IS) team claimed responsibility, in accordance to the Web site intelligence group.

Witness Raju Singh Sonny advised AFP a man in a law enforcement uniform burst into the temple in central Kabul, shot a guard and started attacking worshippers in the key hall.

“Quite a few other attackers also entered the building and they were heading from room to space taking pictures men and women,” Sonny said.

Only a couple thousand Sikhs and Hindus are believed to reside in what is an overwhelmingly Muslim nation.

There have been conflicting accounts about how quite a few gunmen had been concerned, with stability resources offering differing numbers, involving 1 and 4.

At the very least one particular attacker was subsequently killed by safety forces in an hrs-prolonged clearing procedure.

Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh member of the Afghan parliament, told AFP about 150 folks had been inside of the temple, where by quite a few family members also live and worshippers get for early morning prayers.

“Some persons within the temple are hiding and their phones are off,” Honaryar mentioned even though the attack was ongoing.

Inside ministry spokesman Tariq Arian reported 25 civilians experienced been killed and 8 other folks wounded, although 80 men and women had been rescued. Graphic photos posted on the web confirmed a number of bodies as very well as terrified people who appeared to be Sikhs operating from the scene.

“These kinds of cowardly attacks on the spots of spiritual worship of the minority neighborhood, specifically at this time of (the coronavirus) pandemic, is reflective of the diabolical state of mind of the perpetrators and their backers,” the Indian international ministry reported in a statement.

Sikhism and Hinduism are rooted in India.

– Afghan leaders’ ‘failure’ –

IS has a historical past of concentrating on Afghan Sikhs and Hindus.

In latest months, the jihadist team has experienced mounting setbacks after staying hunted by US and Afghan forces as very well as Taliban offensives focusing on their fighters, but it nonetheless retains the means to launch main assaults on city centres.

To include to Afghanistan’s woes, Washington slashed the total of assist to the country this week soon after President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has also proclaimed himself president, unsuccessful to take care of their standoff.

Pursuing a visit to Kabul, US Secretary of Point out Mike Pompeo reported the US would instantly cut $1 billion and was organized to pull a further $1 billion in 2021.

The US and the Taliban signed a offer previous month that was supposed to pave the way for talks concerning the Afghan management and the insurgents, but with Kabul not able to agree who is in governing administration, the talks stalled.

The concern of the prisoners has been a major sticking position in the weeks since the signing.

But on Wednesday Afghanistan’s Nationwide Security Council mentioned the Taliban and Ghani’s govt would satisfy to go over an initial release of 100 insurgent prisoners by March 31.

It is thought that it will be the initial time at any time that the Islamist extremist Taliban and Ghani’s govt have fulfilled in an official ability.

“To have out these even more discussions, a Taliban workforce will fulfill with the authorities face-to-confront in Afghanistan in the coming times,” the NSC mentioned.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US negotiator who brokered the US-Taliban offer, confirmed on Twitter that “prisoner releases by equally sides will get started March 31.”

“This is a favourable development,” he stated.

The United States, hoping to pull its 1000’s of remaining troops out of Afghanistan to end 18 years of involvement, has mentioned the coronavirus pandemic helps make prisoner releases urgent.

In Washington on Wednesday, Pompeo named the temple assault “horrific” and reiterated his aggravation at the failure to bridge the divide in between Ghani and Abdullah.

But he mentioned the two — furthermore Taliban negotiator Mullah Baradar — ended up dedicated to a peaceful answer to stop Afghanistan’s several years of war.

Pompeo stated it can be time for the political approach to start “with all the Afghans coming collectively close to the desk.”

He additional: “I am nevertheless optimistic that we can get there.”

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