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Iran will stand by Afghanistan in campaign against terrorism, extremism: Spokesman

Afghan security personnel stand guard near the site of an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 25, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

A senior Iranian official says the Islamic Republic will stand by the Afghan government in its fight against terrorism and extremism, offering condolences over a deadly militant attack on a Sikh temple that left dozens of people dead.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi condemned the Wednesday attack, which was claimed by the Daesh Takfiri group, commiserated with the families of the victims and extended his most sincere condolences to the bereaved ones.

“Terrorists will definitely not achieve their goals to foment insecurity, instability and religious disputes through [carrying out] sinister acts and imposing heavy expenses on the oppressed people of Afghanistan,” Mousavi pointed out.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian said in a message to journalists that security forces had killed gunmen, who attacked a Sikh religious complex in the capital, Kabul, ending an hours-long siege that killed at least 25 people.

Witness Raju Singh Sonny told AFP that a man dressed in a police uniform burst into the temple in central Kabul, shot a guard and started attacking worshippers in the main hall.

"Several other attackers also entered the building and they were going from room to room shooting people," Sonny said.

Narindra Singh Khalsa, a parliamentarian from the minority Sikh community, told AP news agency he had been near the Gurdwara - the Sikh place of worship - when the attack happened and ran to the site.

Those killed included a child whose body was brought to a Kabul hospital, emergency services and the hospital said.

Sikhs, who number fewer than 300 families, have on occasions been targeted by militant groups in Afghanistan.

In 2018, a bombing targeting the Sikh community and claimed by Daesh killed more than a dozen people in the eastern city of Jalalabad.

The attack came a day after the US said it would cut its aid to the Afghan government by $1 billion, voicing disappointment that rival leaders in the country had failed to establish an inclusive government and form a team to negotiate with the Taliban.

The US came to an agreement with the Taliban in February to begin withdrawing troops. But the militants have not stopped hitting government targets.

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