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Unknown attackers kills key Pakistani cleric with Taliban links

© AFP | Maulana Sami Ul-Haq, pictured in August 2017, was known as "Father of the Taliban," having educated the movement's stalwarts including Mullah Omar at his seminary

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - 

Unidentified attackers have assassinated a key Pakistani cleric with close ties to the Afghan Taliban, officials and family said Friday.

Maulana Sami Ul-Haq was stabbed and shot by unknown killers in an attack at his home in central Punjab province in Pakistan.

He was chief of his own faction of the religious Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-S) party, and ran a madrassa that educated several prominent Taliban leaders.

"Unidentified attackers killed Maulana Sami ul Haq inside his residence," Umar Jahangir, a senior government official, told state-run Pakistan television.

Hamid Ul-Haq, the cleric's son and a former MP, confirmed the killing to private TV channel GEO, and said his father was stabbed by the attackers before they opened fire.

Maulana Yousuf Shah, a party spokesman, said unidentified attackers killed him in his residence and fled the scene.

Ul-Haq, who was in his 80s, was known as "Father of the Taliban". His Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary educated Taliban stalwarts including Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani.

Ul-Haq was in 2014 a member of the negotiating committee from the Pakistan homegrown Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) -- who brokered a ceasefire with the government, although the talks later failed.

He twice held roles as a member of Pakistan's Senate.

His JUI-S party was an ally of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Khan, currently on an official visit to Beijing, condemned the killing and ordered an investigation, his office said in a statement.

© 2018 AFP