Afghan Sikhs, Hindus fear delayed evacuation after Kabul airport blast
After Thursday's tragic bombing at the Kabul airport, the fate of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus waiting to be evacuated remains uncertain. At least two blasts at the airport killed over 60 Afghans and 13 US troops on Thursday. The Islamic State-Khorasan has claimed responsibility for the suicide bomb attack. After the blast, Afghan Sikhs and Hindus awaiting evacuation fear the hold-up will be prolonged.
210 Afghan Sikhs, Hindus await evacuation
The situation in Afghanistan has been chaotic since the Taliban seized power on August 15. The United States' abrupt withdrawal of troops is said to be the reason for the Taliban's quick advance. Several nations have been rushing to evacuate their citizens and Afghans. India has evacuated 70 Afghan Sikhs and Hindus so far, but 210 of them are still awaiting rescue.
'Eternity of waiting'
The Indian Express spoke to Kulwinder Singh, who has taken shelter at Gurdwara Dashmesh Pita Guru Gobind Singh Karte Parwan in Kabul along with other Afghan Sikhs and Hindus. Singh said they are all safe as none of them were approaching Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport when the blasts occurred. However, the group reportedly likened their journey to India to an "eternity" in waiting.
Group came under gunfire while approaching Kabul airport
Singh said the group was on their way to airport when the firing started, forcing them to return. The Taliban has made pronouncements barring Afghan citizens from approaching the airport. With no update from authorities, the group fears they will remain stuck forever.
'Group returned to gurdwara at 2 am on Thursday'
US-based United Sikhs said in a statement that a caravan of nine mini-buses approached the Kabul airport's north gate, but their attempt remained unsuccessful due to US-Taliban skirmishes. During a second attempt, the group came under gunfire. One vehicle was hit, but no one was injured, the statement said. The caravan return to the gurdwara at 2 am on Thursday, it added.
IS responsible for twin blasts near Abbey Gate
On Thursday, twin blasts occurred near the Abbey Gate of the Kabul airport, US officials confirmed. A third explosion was reported by Agence France-Presse, while unconfirmed reports said there may have been other blasts. The Islamic State said its suicide bombers targeted "translators and collaborators with the American army." Kabul health officials reported at least 60 civilian fatalities while 13 US troops were killed.
'Situation fluid; uncertain when Afghan Sikhs, Hindus will be evacuated'
Former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee President Manjinder Singh Sirsa was quoted as saying by TIE, "With the blast happening at Kabul airport the situation now is very fluid. It is uncertain when the next batch of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus will be evacuated now."