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Religious scholar shot dead in eastern Afghanistan

Attack on Ulema Council deputy was fourth such killing since May 7

Religious scholar shot dead in eastern Afghanistan FILE PHOTO

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

 A pro-government religious official was shot dead on his way to a mosque in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said.

Mawlawi Abdul Ghafoor, deputy head of Logar province’s Ulema Council, was the fourth Islamic official linked to the government to be killed this month.

Saleem Saleh, spokesman for the Logar governor, told Anadolu Agency that Ghafoor was killed by masked men in front of the mosque in Kulangar district.

No group has claimed responsibility but at least one other killing of an Islamic scholar was claimed by the Taliban.

Abdul Ghafoor Perzo, a strong critic of extremism, was shot dead in front of his home in Kandahar city on May 7. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Two days later, a pro-government cleric and six children studying at his seminary in northeastern Parwan province were killed in an improvised explosion. Mawlawi Abdul Rahim Shah Hanafi had been an outspoken critic of the Taliban.

Saifur Rahman Stanikzai, deputy head of Islamic sciences at the Afghanistan Academy of Sciences, was shot dead in capital Kabul on May 12 by unknown attackers.

“The enemies of the country, Islam and the enemies of Afghans are behind these attacks,” Saleh, the Logar governor’s spokesman, said.

“Our security and defense forces are busy on investigations and we will apprehend the killers of the Ulema soon.”

The National Ulema Council said members were feeling threatened by the spate of killings.

“Those of our members who are quite active in propagating for peace and against the armed rebels are in serious danger and they have been targeted,” Attaullah Lodin, a member of the council’s central committee, said.

Afghanistan has faced major security challenges since international troops withdrew in late 2014, leaving behind a small contingent of training and counter-terrorism personnel.

The Taliban and Daesh are the main threats to the government of President Ashraf Ghani.

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