Suicide bombers and gunmen attack Sikh temple in Afghanistan

Security forces at the scene of the attack

Afghan security forces are battling militants who stormed a temple belonging to the Sikh religious minority in central Kabul.

Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the temple in the Shorbazar area at about 07:45 (03:15 GMT) as 150 people were at worship inside.

Casualty numbers are unknown but some worshippers have been rescued.

Two years ago the Islamic State group targeted a Sikh gathering in Afghanistan, killing 19 people.

The country’s main militant group, the Taliban, has denied involvement in Wednesday’s attack.

Witnesses report hearing explosions and gunfire from the temple area, which has been sealed off by Afghan special forces.

“People are stuck inside the building and [security forces] are trying to rescue them,” interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian told AFP news agency.

Photos from the scene show security forces carrying people away on stretchers.

Anarkali Kaur Honaryar, a Sikh MP in the Afghan parliament, said people were hiding inside the temple and their phones were switched off.

“I am very concerned,” he said. “There are about 150 people inside the temple. Families are living there and they usually gather to offer prayers in the mornings.”

Afghanistan is currently mired in a political stalemate with two politicians – Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah – both having claimed victory in the presidential election.

The US has been trying to break the deadlock and also save a deal it signed with the Taliban militant group that is supposed to pave the way for peace in Afghanistan.

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