Several gunmen and suicide bombers opened fire at a religious gathering of Sikhs in their place of worship in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Wednesday, March 25, killing at least 27 people and injuring another eight.

The attackers stormed a Sikh religious complex or Gurdwara located in the Shor Bazar area of Kabul at around 7:45 am Afghan time. Soon, the Afghan security forces rushed to the site, blocked off the entire area and were locked in a gunbattle with the attackers.

Gunmen storm Sikh religious complex in Kabul
Gunmen storm Sikh religious complex in Kabul

Narender Singh Khalsa, a member of parliament who represents the Sikh community, said that there were about 150 worshippers inside the Gurdwara when three gunmen entered the premises.

He said that a worshipper called him up to inform him about the early morning assault on the Sikhs, which are a religious minority in Afghanistan with fewer than 300 families.

Interior ministry spokesman Tariq Arian has informed that the Afghan security forces have cleared the first floor of the Gurdwara and have rescued a number of worshippers.

However, several media reports have it that dozens are still trapped in the building and that the attackers may have taken hostages.

ISKP claims responsibility for attack

After the Taliban denied any involvement in the latest attack on the Sikhs in Afghanistan, the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISKP) claimed responsibility for it.

Sikhs have been subjected to discrimination and harassment in the Muslim majority country for long. They have been targeted by Islamist militants before as well.

Gunmen storm Sikh religious complex in Kabul
Gunmen storm Sikh religious complex in Kabul

In 2018, the Islamic State group bombed a gathering of Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan, killing 19.

India offers assistance to affected Hindus, Sikhs

The Ministry of External Affairs of India conveyed condolences to the immediate family members of the deceased and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

"India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan," said MEA.

"Such cowardly attacks on the places of religious worship of the minority community, especially at this time of COVID 19 pandemic, is reflective of the diabolical mindset of the perpetrators and their backers," it added.