KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A lone Islamic State gunman rampaged through a Sikh house of worship in the heart of the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday, killing 25 worshippers and wounding eight, Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said.
The gunman held many of the worshippers hostage for several hours as Afghan special forces, helped by international troops, tried to clear the building. At least one of the dead was a child.
Within hours, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.
As the siege ended, the Afghan special forces rescued at least 80 worshippers who had been trapped inside the Sikh house of worship, known as a Gurdwara, as the gunman lobbed grenades and fired his automatic rifle into the crowd, the ministry said.
Earlier, Afghan lawmaker Narindra Singh Khalsa said he rushed over to help after receiving a call from a person inside the Gurdwara telling him of the attack. There were about 150 people inside at the time, he said.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks militant postings and groups, said IS claimed responsibility for the attack on the group’s Aamaq media arm. The communique identified the gunman as Indian national Abu Khalid al-Hindi, who carried out the attack to avenge the plight of Muslims living under severe restrictions in Indian-ruled Kashmir, Hindu India’s only Muslim dominated state.
At a Kabul hospital, Mohan Singh, who was in the Gurdwara when the attack began, said he first heard the sound of gunshots and ducked for cover under a table. Later he heard explosions, adding that he believes they were hand grenades.