03/25/2020, 09.52
AFGHANISTAN
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Attack on Kabul Sikh temple: 11 dead and 200 hostages

The siege is still underway in the Shorbazar neighborhood. Sikhs are a small religious minority of just 300 families in Afghanistan. The Taliban deny all responsibility. The stalemate in leadership undermining prospects for peace. US State Department cuts aid.

Kabul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A Sikh temple was attacked in Kabul this morning, while the faithful gathered in prayer.

Initial reports state that at least three men wearing explosive belts entered the Dharamshala (area dedicated to worship) in the Shorbazar district, and opened fire on those present. So far there are reports of 11 dead and there are fears of the presence of at least 200 hostages held captive.

The attack began at 7.45 this morning and is still ongoing. Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior, said that the security forces are operating in the area of ​​the religious complex and are moving cautiously to avoid increasing the number of victims.

So far no Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the assault and the Taliban spokesman has denied all responsibility.

In Afghanistan, the Sikhs represent a small religious minority, with just 300 families.

According to Narender Singh Khalsa, a deputy who represents the minority in Parliament, the attackers wanted to cause the greatest number of deaths, because at the time of the attack the place of worship was full of faithful.

Experts say that the violence is a consequence of the tensions at the top that have been blocking the country for months, after the elections assigned victory to the outgoing President Ashraf Ghani.

His main challenger Abdullah Abdullah, chief executive of the government, also claims victory and is blocking peace talks between the Kabul government and Taliban militants, after the historic Doha agreement between the United States and fundamentalists and the beginning of the withdrawal of US troops.

Proof of the fragile climate came with the ‘urgent visit’ to Kabul two days ago of the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to resolve the dispute between the two leaders and progress on the peace path established in Qatar.

However, he left the capital a few hours later without an agreement to overcome the stalemate. The outcome was announced yesterday: the US State Department will cut aid to the Afghan government by $ 1 billion dollars.

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