Gunmen storm Sikh religious complex in ongoing Kabul assault

Gunmen stormed a religious gathering of Afghanistan's minority Sikhs in their place of worship in the

Security forces had cordoned off the area located in old Kabul (Rahmat Gul AP

"All four suicide bombers who attacked Dharamshala, a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul, were killed after almost six hours of fighting".

In recent months, the jihadist group has suffered mounting setbacks after being hunted by United States and Afghan forces as well as Taliban offensives targeting their fighters, but it still retains the ability to launch major assaults on urban centres.

The Interior Ministry said the first floor of the Gurdwara had been cleared but that Afghan special forces, aided by worldwide troops, were moving slowly throughout the remainder of the building. "India stands ready to extend all possible assistance to the affected families of the Hindu and Sikh community of Afghanistan", a statement shared by External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the attack on the gurdwara.

No group has said it carried out the attack. "My nephew shouted and said to me "Uncle, please go downstairs", and when I tried to go downstairs, they shot my nephew in the head", said Harander Singh who lost several other relatives including his wife, father and daughter.

Within hours, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Thirty years ago it was 500,000 strong, but after decades of conflict and the rise of the Taliban - who ordered Sikhs to wear yellow armbands - many have sought asylum in India and the community is now thought to be reduced to around 300 families.

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

Police in Kabul said that at least 11 children were rescued from the gurdwara. Nineteen people were killed in that attack. At the same time, Pakistan has taken advantage of this opportunity to help terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan.

"Afghan forces have cleared the first floor of a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul".

However, Indian intelligence agencies believe that the attack is orchestrated by Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI and the country is promoting the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP) as a check on the Taliban. Terrorists attacked the Gurudwara in the Shor bazar area of Kabul early morning when 150 people were at the worship, killing at least 27 people. To add to Afghanistan's woes, Washington slashed the amount of aid to the country this week after President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, who has also proclaimed himself president, failed to resolve their standoff.

Violence in Afghanistan continues unabated even as the U.S. and Taliban have signed a peace deal, which entails withdrawal of the USA forces. The Pakistan-based Haqqani group, designated by the U.S. as a banned terror outfit, has conducted several deadly attacks inside Afghanistan.

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