Senior Cleric, US Soldier Killed in Separate Incidents in Afghanistan

Senior Cleric, US Soldier Killed in Separate Incidents in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD � Authorities in Afghanistan say unknown gunmen assassinated a top Islamic cleric Saturday in Kabul, while anti-insurgency operations elsewhere in the volatile country killed an American service member and two Afghan soldiers.

A city police spokesman told VOA they found the body of Mawlawi Abdul Basir Haqqani, the deputy head of Kabul's religious council, in Chehelsutun area of the capital.

Basir Mujahid said that police have arrested a man for his suspected role in the incident and an investigation was underway to determine the motive. No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.

Haqqani's assassination comes after Tuesday's suicide blast in Kabul that ripped through a big gathering of religious scholars and clerics, killing around 50 people. There were no claims of responsibility for that attack.

Separately, NATO's Resolute Support mission said a U.S. soldier was killed in action in Afghanistan Saturday. The brief announcement promised to more details later about the incident, including the identity of the slain service member.

The U.S. military has lost eight personnel in action this year in the country. There are around 14,000 American soldiers fighting terrorist groups and advising and training Afghan forces battling the Taliban insurgency.

Meanwhile, two Afghan soldiers were killed and six others wounded when a military helicopter transporting reinforcements made an emergency landing Saturday in the troubled Maruf district in southern Kandahar province.

While officials cited "a technical fault" for causing the incident, Taliban insurgents claimed they shot down the army helicopter in Maruf, which is located close to the border with Pakistan.

Afghan security forces continue to suffer heavy casualties while battling the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

A suicide bomber on Friday blew himself up in a mosque inside an Afghan army base in southeastern Khost province, killing more than 27 soldiers and wounding over 50 others. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the bombing on Saturday.

In a rare disclosure last week, President Ashraf Ghani revealed that Afghan security forces have lost nearly 29,000 personnel since 2015 when NATO transferred national security responsibilities to Kabul.

Source: Voice of America