More than two dozen people are dead after an attack Wednesday on a Sikh place of worship in Kabul. The assault on the temple in the Afghan capital left at least 25 people dead, another eight wounded and dozens more in need of rescue, according to the country's Ministry of Interior.
After initially reporting that the attack was carried out by a single gunman, ministry officials have said multiple attackers were involved in the assault, which lasted hours as Afghan security forces struggled to track down and neutralize the assailants in the complex and its neighboring residential area.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the raid Wednesday.
"The enemy has once again exposed its savage character by launching today's terrorist attacks on our dear countrymen," Nasrat Rahimi, a ministry spokesman, said in a statement posted to Twitter. He added that the "terrorists will surely be punished."
It's not the first time that the Islamist militant group has attacked the Sikh community in Afghanistan, a small religious minority that numbers fewer than 300 families across the country, according to NPR's Diaa Hadid. In 2018, at least 19 people — mostly Sikhs — were killed by a suicide bombing claimed by ISIS in the eastern city of Jalalabad.
Afghanistan has seen no relief from violence in the weeks following the announcement of a peace framework between the U.S. and the Taliban. That agreement, which laid the groundwork for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, has been followed by a spate of attacks by the Taliban — which denied responsibility for Wednesday's assault — and ISIS, another major Islamist militant group in the region whose activities the Taliban pledged to try to curb.
Earlier this month ISIS carried out another attack in Kabul, killing at least 32 people at an event attended by several major Afghan politicians.
"We are shocked and disheartened to see the attack against the Sikh minority today in Kabul. They are a small religious community in Afghanistan who were persecuted by the Taliban when the [group] was in power," Amnesty International South Asia said in a statement released Wednesday.
"The authorities," added the human rights group, "have a responsibility to protect minorities and their places of worship in Afghanistan."