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Pro-government religious scholar killed in Afghanistan

PRO-GOVERNMENT RELIGIOUS SCHOLAR KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN
A pro-government Islamic cleric was gunned down near the Afghan capital Kabul, officials confirmed on Saturday.

Mawlawi Gul Mohammad Hanifyar was the head of the provincial ulema (council of religious scholars) in the Kapisa province, north of Kabul.

According to Qais Qaderi, spokesman for the provincial governor, Hanifyar was shot dead by unknown assailants riding a motorcycle in the Hesa Awal Kohistan district area early Saturday. He said the head of Ulema Council succumbed to wounds while one of his guards died on the spot.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Prior to this apparent targeted assassination, four senior religious scholars have been gunned down in Afghanistan this year so far.

Mawlawi Abdul Ghafoor, deputy head of Logar province's Ulema Council, located southeast of Kabul was killed on May 22.

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.

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