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Top Taliban cleric killed in Kabul suicide blast by Islamic State

An Afghan man rushes to the target with his horse as a Taliban fighter stands guard during a spear racing in the sprawling Chaman-e-Huzori park in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
An Afghan man rushes to the target with his horse as a Taliban fighter stands guard during a spear racing in the sprawling Chaman-e-Huzori park in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

A senior Taliban cleric known for his fiery speeches against the Islamic State (IS) has been killed at his madrassa in the Afghan capital in a suicide attack claimed by the jihadist group.

Rahimullah Haqqani, who had recently spoken publicly in favor of girls being allowed to attend school, had survived at least two previous assassination attempts — including one in Pakistan in October 2020.

“He is the only one martyred,” Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran tells AFP, adding that at least four others were wounded in the blast.

Government spokesman Bilal Karimi confirms his death “in an attack carried out by a cowardly enemy,” but did not offer further details.

Hours later, IS claims the attack on its telegram channels, saying the bomber had detonated his explosive vest inside the office of the cleric.

Haqqani was one of the most “prominent advocates for the Taliban and one of the biggest of them who incited to fight” IS, jihadist monitoring group SITE says, translating a statement from IS.

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