Friday, August 12, 2022

Prominent Taliban cleric, son, brother killed in Kabul suicide attack

Rahimullah Haqqani had urged Taliban leadership to resume girls’ education in Afghanistan

Taliban cleric Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani during an interview with BBC . — BBC News
Taliban cleric Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani during an interview with BBC . — BBC News
  • Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani killed along with his son and brother.
  • Suicide bomber had planted explosives in an artificial plastic leg.
  • Daesh claims responsibility.

A prominent Taliban cleric, Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani was killed along with his son and brother in a suicide attack in Kabul on Thursday. According to Taliban sources, a man who had previously lost his leg detonated the explosives hidden in his artificial leg after successfully entering the religious seminary in the Afghan capital city.

"The late Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani was well-protected, and he was always escorted by armed men. We're looking into how the disabled person with one leg got to him," said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.

Pleading anonymity, he said some of their senior leaders had just left Sheikh Rahimullah and the person with one leg entered his office in the madrassa. "The suicide bomber had planted explosives in his artificial plastic leg and blew himself up in front of Sheikh Rahimullah," said the Taliban leader.

The Taliban said Sheikh Rahimullah’s son and brother also died in the blast. "Since the suicide bomber was sitting close to them, that’s why it caused damage to the bodies of Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, his son and brother. We don’t know who could have carried out this barbaric act, but the Islamic State had claimed an earlier attack on him in Peshawar," said the Taliban leader.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on him. Taliban said they were also investigating who the suicide bomber was and who had brought him to the personal office of Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani. "It’s a very huge loss for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," another Taliban leader remarked.

Sheikh Rahimullah didn’t hold any official position in the Taliban government, but was highly respected by the Taliban leadership as many of them holding important positions in the government had been his students.

According to Taliban sources, he remained active in the Taliban resistance movement in the 1990s. "He was based in Kunduz at that time and used to fight against the enemy and then teach his students. He had survived a drone strike in Afghanistan in which his brother-in-law was killed, but he himself had suffered burn injuries," a Taliban leader close to him told The News. He said the US and Afghan forces had twice arrested him and badly tortured him but then he was freed.

"During detention, they had badly tortured him and even removed his nails, but he didn’t confess to the charges framed against him," recalled the Taliban leader. In videos after the blast, the Taliban were seen crying over the loss of Haqqani. They were also seen kicking the body of the suicide bomber lying there. Others were hitting the body with stones and sticks, apparently due to shock and anger.

According to the Taliban, Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani survived a bomb blast in his madrassa in Peshawar in October 2020. Eight people lost their lives while 80 others sustained injuries when unknown people planted explosives in a plastic bag and put it in the seminary.

Taliban said Haqqani was in favour of education, both for males and females, and had urged the Taliban leadership to resume girls’ education in Afghanistan.