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Kabul Sikhs Fear For Safety After Armed Men Attack Temple

Afghan Sikh men carry a coffin at a funeral of one of the victims of an attack on a Sikh religious complex in Kabul in March 2020.

Sikhs in Kabul say more than a dozen armed men attacked and briefly occupied a Sikh temple in the Kart-e Parwan district of the Afghan capital on October 5, tying up the guards and destroying security cameras.

There were no major injuries reported.

The leader of the temple, Gurnam, told RFE/RL that it was unclear who the perpetrators were, but the incident has heightened concerns about the minority Sikh community's safety.

"At around 3:30 p.m. on [October 5], 15 to 20 militants entered the shrine and tied up the guards. They also broke security cameras," Gurnam said. "They were in the gurdwara (temple) for about half an hour. Security officials did not tell us if they were thieves or the Taliban."

Video that appeared on social media showed armed men inside the Sikh temple, with some commentators claiming that "Taliban" attacked the shrine and beat some worshipers.

But that accusation could not be confirmed.

Bilal Karimi, from the Taliban-led authorities' media team, told RFE/RL that the attack was being investigated, but he did not elaborate.

Many religious minorities have suffered discrimination at the hands of Sunni Taliban militants, including during their reign in Kabul and other wide swaths of Afghanistan from 1996-2001.

The community of Afghan Hindus and Sikhs was once estimated to be more than 80,000 strong, but many left after the collapse of the communist regime in 1992.

Many have lost their businesses and properties during the various cycles of war during the past three decades.

More Afghan Hindus and Sikhs left for India after a deadly attack by gunmen on a Sikh shrine in Kabul in March 2020.

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