QUETTA: A day after a prayer leader was killed in Kuchlak, another imam was gunned down in the same area on the outskirts of the provincial capital on Saturday.
Hafiz Hamdullah, the imam who was killed on Friday just before the weekly prayers in a bomb blast at his Al-Haj mosque, was said to be a brother of Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada. A total of four people were killed in the explosion.
Police said on Saturday that Muhammad Azam, who was the imam of Usman bin Afaan mosque of Kuchlak, was killed in what looked like a targeted attack.
The prayer leader was sitting in a shop in Kuchlak town when some men opened fire on him, before fleeing from the crime scene on their motorbike, police said.
Maulvi Azam received multiple bullet injuries and succumbed to his wounds on the spot, they said.
“The 50-year-old man was an Afghan citizen and had been the prayer leader of the Usman bin Afaan mosque for many years,” a police officer said, adding that he used to live in a house close to the mosque.
Police said that investigations were under way in the case.
Till the filing of this report no group or individual had claimed responsibility for the killing.
The Afghan Taliban, meanwhile, said the killing of their chief’s brother in an explosion on Friday would not derail talks with the United States aimed at securing the withdrawal of US troops after 18 years of war, Reuters reported.
There was no claim of responsibility for the bomb blast that came after both the Taliban and US officials reported progress in talks on an agreement centred on a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban security guarantee.
“If someone thinks martyring our leaders would stop us from our goal they’re living in a fool’s paradise,” a Taliban leader said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
“We are close to our goals,” he said, referring to the talks with the United States. He declined to be identified.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2019