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Islamic State claims assault on Sikh temple in Afghan capital

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The Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple and civilian complex in Kabul. The assault occurred early on the morning of Mar. 25, and reportedly led to a prolonged standoff.

The Afghan government’s General Command of Police Special Units (GCPSU) was dispatched the scene and performed a “clearance operation,” as upwards of 80 were initially stranded within the temple.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs reported that at least 25 civilians were killed in the assault, while another eight were wounded.

Amaq News Agency, the Islamic State’s daily reporting arm, claimed responsibility via various social media and online communication applications. Amaq’s short statement can be seen above.

The group’s media team then issued a longer statement, identifying the main terrorist responsible as a man known as Abu Khalid al-Hindi. That nom de guerre indicates that he is likely from India, or India-ruled Kashmir. Indeed, the statement claims the attack was “revenge for the Muslims in Kashmir.”

The Islamic State has a relatively small cadre of loyalists inside Kashmir and has attempted to exploit that conflict for several years.

Both the Afghan government, backed by the U.S. and NATO, as well as the Taliban claim to have dealt severe blows to the Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. While that is true, there is uncertainty concerning the size of the group’s network in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Despite suffering setbacks, the Islamic State’s Khorasan arm had carried out several attacks in the Afghan capital this year. Until today, those operations caused far fewer casualties than past attacks.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

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