Prominent Taliban scholar killed in Kabul attack

Taliban officials said an investigation was underway after Rahimullah Haqqani was killed in a bombing at a seminary.

Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, a key Taliban religious leader, has been killed in a bomb blast at a seminary in Kabul, Taliban officials said.

“It is with great sadness that the respected cleric [Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani] He was martyred in a cowardly attack by the enemy,” Taliban administration spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Thursday.

The armed group ISIL (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Reuters news agency cited four Taliban sources as saying the attacker was someone who had previously lost his leg and had hidden explosives in a plastic prosthetic leg.

“We are investigating who this person was and who brought him to this important place to enter Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani’s personal office. This is a huge loss for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” said a senior Taliban official in the interior ministry, referring to the group’s name for its administration.

Later on Thursday, ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack on its Telegram channel, saying the bomber had detonated an explosive vest in the scholar’s office.

Haqqani was one of the Taliban’s key advocates and the biggest pusher to fight ISIL, monitoring group SITE said, translating an ISIL statement.

Haqqani was a prominent Taliban scholar who was involved in a 2020 bombing in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar, claimed by the ISIL group, that killed at least seven people.

Several Taliban officials expressed their condolences on social media.

“You have done your duty. Destiny cannot be stopped, but the Muslim community is orphaned,” tweeted former Kabul police spokesperson Mobin Khan.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government. Since returning to power a year ago, the Taliban have said they have restored security.

However, there have been regular attacks by armed groups, many of which have been claimed by an affiliate of ISIL known as the Islamic State, ISKP (ISIS-K) in Khorasan province, in recent months.

Recently, the group has increased attacks on mosques and minorities in Afghanistan. In June, the ISKP claimed responsibility for an attack on a Sikh temple in Kabul, in which two people were killed.

The ISIL affiliate, which has been operating in Afghanistan since 2014, is seen as the biggest security challenge facing the Taliban government in the country.

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