India Abroad

11 Indian Sikhs Among 19 Killed In Afghanistan Suicide Blast Claimed By ISIS

| July 2 , 2018 , 09:35 IST

At least 19 people have been killed, including 11 Indian Sikhs, in a suicide bombing in the Jalalabad province of Afghanistan on Sunday, which was later claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group.

The suicide bomber detonated in a market located hundreds of metres away from the provincial governor's compound where Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had been conducting meetings, with the blast badly damaging shops and buildings.

According to governor's spokesman Attaullah Khogyani, the suicide bomber was targeting a group of Hindus and Sikhs on their way to meet President Ghani in the eastern province of Nangarhar and blasted as the vehicle passed through the Mukhaberat square in the city.

The deceased include Awtar Singh Khalsa, the only Sikh candidate who planned to contest in the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in October. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee later released a list of the names of 11 Sikhs who had died in the Jalalabad suicide bombing incident on Sunday.

In the 1970s, the Sikh and Hindu community in Afghanistan numbered more than 80,000 which has now dwindled down to only around 1,000.

The attack was condemned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

PM Modi said, "We strongly condemn the terror attacks in Afghanistan yesterday. They are an attack on Afghanistan's multicultural fabric. My thoughts are with the bereaved families. I pray that the injured recover soon. India stands ready to assist the Afghanistan government in this sad hour."

Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "My heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the terror attack in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan. We are with them in this hour of tragedy. I am meeting their relatives today at 6 pm in JN Bhavan."

Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted, "Strongly condemn deadly attack by ISI on delegation of Sikhs & others on way to meet Afghan president. Let global community rise in one voice against barbaric forces of terror & vow to wipe out the menace from the world. My govt extends all help to the victims & their families,"

The Jalalabad attack comes a day after President Ghani ordered the Afghanistan security forces to resume offensive operations against the Taliban after the expiry of the government's 18-day ceasefire.