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International

Sikh MP-to-be among 19 killed in Afghan blast

July 02, 2018 05:08 AM

COURSTEY THE TRIBUNE JUL 2

Sikh MP-to-be among 19 killed in Afghan blast
17 of victims Sikhs, Hindus out to meet Prez in Jalalabad
Kabul, July 1

A suicide bomber targeted a convoy of Sikhs and Hindus on their way to meet Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani in the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday, killing at least 19 persons.
Inamullah Miakhail, spokesman for the provincial hospital in Nangarhar, said 17 of the 19 dead were from the minority Sikh and Hindu community. At least 10 of the 20 wounded were also from the minority community.
Miakhail confirmed that Avtar Singh Khalsa, a longtime leader of the Sikh community who had planned to run in the parliamentary elections set for October, was killed in the attack.
Khalsa would have been elected unopposed to the Lower House as the seat he was planning to contest was apportioned to the minority by a presidential decree in 2016.
The 52-year-old father of four, originally from the eastern Paktia province, earlier served as a senator representing the minority, which has long had a seat in the Upper House.
His son Narender Singh, who was among the wounded, said over the phone from his hospital bed that their convoy was targeted by a bomber.
Gen Ghulam Sanayee Stanekzai, Nangarhar’s police chief, said the attacker targeted the group on its way to the governor’s compound. They had planned to meet the President, who was visiting the region on Sunday.
No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate are active in the province. Officials at the Indian Embassy in Kabul confirmed the death of 10 Sikhs and condemned “the terrorist attack”. “The attack underlines the need for a united global fight against international terrorism without discrimination and accountability of those who support terrorists in any manner,” the Indian Embassy said on Twitter.
Punjab Chief Minister 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 government extends all help to the victims & their families.”
Sikhs and Hindus have long suffered discrimination in the conservative Muslim country and have been targeted by Islamic extremists. The community numbered over 80,000 in the 1970s, but only around 1,000 now remain in the country.

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