Gunmen stormed a Sikh-Hindu temple in central Kabul on Wednesday and were locked in an ongoing battle with security forces, an official said, in the latest assault on the Afghan capital.
“At around 7:45 am (0315 GMT), a number of attackers entered a Hindu-Sikh temple,” interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told AFP.
“People are stuck inside the building and (security forces) are trying to rescue them.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but assaults on the country’s religious minorities are frequently orchestrated by Islamic State militants.
“There are about 150 people inside the temple. Families are living there and they usually gather to offer prayers in the mornings,” said Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh MP in the Afghan parliament.
“Some people inside the temple are hiding and their phones are off. I am very concerned.”
The attack comes as Afghanistan is facing myriad crises that have put the country on the brink including a raging insurgency, a political deadlock, a flailing peace process, and rising coronavirus cases.
On March 6, IS jihadists killed 32 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a political gathering in Kabul.
To add to the country’s woes, Washington slashed the amount of aid to the country this week.
The decision came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul in a bid to resolve a standoff between President Ashraf Ghan and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who also is proclaiming himself president following a contested election.