The United States on Tuesday condemned the "cowardly" attack on Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul, Afghanistan that claimed the lives of two people and left several others injured. Speaking at a regular press briefing at the White House, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the attack is a part of a concerning trend against members of religious minority groups in Afghanistan, adding that "those perpetrators must be held accountable."
"We have condemned the recent attacks that have killed and harmed civilians in Afghanistan. This includes the cowardly attack that we saw this weekend against the Sikh community in Kabul that claimed lives of innocent, including a Sikh worshiper," Price said in a statement.
Price highlighted that despite Afghanistan being one of the most diverse countries in the world, the terrorists in the war-torn nation are striking at the heart of the country's "pluralistic identity." He said, "What we are seeing here appears to be a pattern on the part terrorists on the part extremists who are striking at the heart of Afghanistan's pluralistic identity who are striking against Hindus and Sikhs."
This comes a day after US special ambassador to Afghanistan, Rina Amiri voiced concern over the escalating attacks against minority Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan. In a Twitter post, she flagged that given the diversity of Afghanistan, a threat to one community is equivalent to a danger to the "identity of Afghanistan as a whole." Later at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), India's permanent representative T.S Tirumurti also slammed the "dastardly attack" that led to the tragic loss of lives in Kabul. He pointed out the necessity to make "selective" efforts to eliminate "religiousphobia."
"And on 18th June, a couple of days ago and on the very day, we commemorated the International Day for Countering Hate Speech. We saw yet another tragic example of this against the Sikh religion, this time in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Gurdwara Karte Parwan was attacked, desecrated, and damaged," Tirumurti said.
"We condemn in the strongest terms this cowardly dastardly attack where lives were tragically lost,” he added while addressing the informal High-Level Meeting to mark the commemoration of the first International Day for Countering Hate Speech.
Unidentified gunmen opened fire inside the premises of Dashmesh Pita Guru Gobind Karte Parwan Gurdwara in Kabul around 7 am on Saturday. At least 30 people were inside the Gurudwara chanting Sukhmani Sahib or morning prayers at the time the firing broke out. Total 5 people have reportedly been killed, including three infiltrators, Afghanistan's Pajhwok News reported. Among the killed was Sawinder Singh, a 60-year-old resident of Ghazni district in southeast Afghanistan.
The Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack, calling it "an act of support for the Prophet." In its statement on its propaganda website, the terrorist outfit wrote, that the strike was targetted at Hindus and Sikhs. Several blasts tore the prayer hall after the terrorist "penetrated the temple" in Kabul and open fired machine guns and hand grenades. PM Narendra Modi also expressed shock over the "cowardly" attack.