Heavily armed gunmen and suicide bombers stormed a Sikh gurdwara in the heart of Afghanistan's capital of Kabul on Wednesday, killing at least 11 worshippers and wounding as many, in one of the deadliest attacks on the minority community in the country, according to a media report.
The gunmen attacked the gurdwara in Shor Bazar area at about 07:45 (local time) as 150 worshippers were inside the building.
"At least 11 people have been killed and 11 others wounded in attack at Dharamshala, a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul," Tolonews quoted a security source as saying.
"Three attackers are still fighting with security forces and one has been shot. Foreign troops have also responded to the attack on Dharamshala, a Sikh temple in PD1," it said in a tweet.
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to media reports.
The security forces have cordoned off the area, located in old Kabul, and are trying to counter the attack. They are locked in a continuing battle with the gunmen.
Police in Kabul said that at least 11 children were rescued from the gurdwara.
Sikh lawmaker Nardendar Singh Khalisa told reporters close to the scene that up to 150 people were praying inside the gurdwara when it came under attack.
"Afghan forces have cleared the first floor of a Sikh worship area in PD1 of Kabul, where suicide bombers are battling security forces," Interior Ministry spokesman Tariq Arian was quoted as saying in the report.
"A number of people have been rescued who were trapped inside the building," he said.
Earlier, the country's main militant group, the Taliban, denied involvement in the attack.
Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that the militant group had no link with the attack in Shor Bazar area of Kabul, Khama News agency reported.
War-torn Afghanistan is currently mired in a political stalemate with two politicians- Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah - both claiming victory in the presidential election.
The US, keen to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, has been trying to break the deadlock and also save a historic deal it signed with the Taliban militant group that is supposed to pave the way for peace in the country.
The attack comes a day after the US said it would cut its aid to the government by USD 1 billion over frustrations that the political leaders could not reach an agreement and form a team to negotiate with the Taliban.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul on Tuesday in a bid to resolve a standoff between President Ghani and his rival Abdullah, who also proclaims himself president following a contested election.
Sikhs have been target of attacks by Islamist militants before in Afghanistan.
Two years ago, the Islamic State group targeted a Sikh gathering in Afghanistan, killing 19 people.
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