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Islamic State Bomber Kills Top Taliban Cleric in Kabul


A suicide bombing Thursday at a religious seminary in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, killed a prominent Taliban cleric known for his fiery speeches against Islamic State militants.

A spokesman for the ruling Taliban confirmed the assassination of Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani in what he said was a “brutal enemy attack.”

Bilal Karimi on Twitter described the slain cleric as “the country's great academic personality.

Reports said the bomber, who had previously lost his leg, detonated explosives hidden in a plastic artificial limb. Taliban authorities said an investigation into the attack was underway.

The self-proclaimed Islamic State took responsibly for the deadly attack on Haqqani. In his speeches, the cleric would regularly challenge Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K), an Afghan affiliate of the militant group fighting Taliban rule and carrying out bombings against the country’s minority Shi’ite Muslims.

ISIS-K emerged in Afghanistan in early 2015. It has intensified attacks across the country since the Taliban seized power almost a year ago.

Haqqani had previously survived two unclaimed assassination attempts, including one in neighboring Pakistan. In media interviews, the religious leader had suspected at the time ISIS-K was behind the attacks.

The religious leader, like many senior members of the Afghan Taliban, graduated from Darul UloomHaqqania, a major religious seminary near the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.