Pacific 

Gunmen kills 25 at Afghan temple, UN chief calls for accountability 

As Sikh worshipers gathered for morning prayers, news reports said that Islamic State militants stormed the temple, where attackers killed a guard and caused people to flee for shelter before a lengthy siege that turned dozens into hostages and left 25 dead, including a child.

“Attacks against civilians are unacceptable and those who carry out such crimes must be held accountable”, the Secretary-General reiterated in a statement.

He expressed his “deepest sympathies” to the victims’ families and wished the injured “a speedy recovery”.  

“The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people and the Government of Afghanistan and will continue supporting efforts to bring peace to their country”, concluded the statement. 

‘Despicable’ attack 

Meanwhile, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), expressed his dismay at the “despicable” attack.

In a statement on his behalf, his Spokesperson said that that the attack came “at a time when the world is facing a pandemic” that adversely impacts everyone and requires all “to stand together as ‘One Humanity’”.

Recalling the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, the High Representative stressed that “attacks targeting sacred sites and worshippers are intolerable and have to stop”. 

Mr. Moratinos called on all governments, as well as others, to support the implementation of the plan to guarantee the sanctity of worship places and the safety of worshipers”. 

Against the backdrop of previous terrorist assaults on Sikhs and other religious minorities in Afghanistan, he said that raid “adds to an expanding number of attacks targeting various faith communities around the world”. 

He underscored that “such outrageous acts of terror” should not be a dissuasion to promoting “solidarity, respect, and peace globally”.

The statement concluded with the High Representative’s condolences to the victims’ families and his wishes of “solidarity to the people and the Government of Afghanistan”. 

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