Gurdwara Guru Teg Bahadur Singh in Jalalabad
Apr 01, 1989
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Members of the Sikh minority gathered today to pray for 22 people who were killed when rebel rockets hit a Sikh Temple in the besieged city of Jalalabad.
Sikhs who were brought by government helicopter to Kabul said 21 Sikhs and one Hindu were killed Thursday when rockets landed in and around the Sikh Gurdwara, or Temple. The names of the six men and 16 women and children who died were read out by a Sikh elder after the service.
The dead were part 65 people who were killed Thursday and Friday when U.S.-backed Islamic rebels fired rockets and artillery shells into Jalalabad, a strategic city near the Khyber Pass and on the main highway leading to Kabul from the Pakistani border.
The U.S.-backed guerrillas chose Jalalabad as their first major objective, following the final withdrawal of Soviet troops on Feb. 15, toward toppling the capital of Kabul and establishing a Moslem republic. Pakistan also backs the rebels.
Many observers believe if the rebels take Jalalabad, it could break the morale of government troops and lead to the collapse of Kabul.
The death toll the last two days has been the highest reported by the government since Soviet forces ended nine years of involvement in the Afghan war. Soviet troops at one time numbered 115,000 in Afghanistan.
Gurmit Singh, one of a score of Sikhs who were brought to Kabul to see President Najib, told reporters hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus had taken shelter in the Gurdwara. ″Our Gurdwara was hit by rockets between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday,″ Singh said.
Singh and others who arrived from Jalalabad said 25 to 30 people were injured by the rockets.
They also said nearly everyone in Jalalabad was staying indoors around the clock as the battle between government forces and Moslem guerrillas continues.