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Pro-Taliban cleric shot dead

31 January, 2014

QUETTA: An influential cleric who supported the Afghan Taliban in their war against US-led forces has been shot dead in Quetta, officials said on Thursday.

"Two unknown gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead Maulana Abdullah Zakiri" as he was on his way to a mosque on Wednesday night, senior police official Abdul Razzaq told AFP. Razzaq said Zakiri had been living in Quetta for a long time and had no known disputes with anyone, though his family have accused Afghan intelligence of his murder.

Balochistan Home Secretary Asad Gilani confirmed the killing.

According to an Afghan Taliban source, Zakiri, 80, was a teacher and a close aide to Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar. The source also blamed Afghan intelligence for the murder.

Abdul Sattar Chishti, a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Nazariati, said Zakiri was a strong proponent of fighting foreign forces in Afghanistan. "We believe that Afghan intelligence is behind the murder of Maulana Zakiri as they have been killing Afghan religious scholars in the past also," Chishti said.

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