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Thousands attend funeral of Pakistan’s pro-Taliban cleric

AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan (AP) — Thousands of mourners have attended the funeral of a prominent Pakistani cleric who was killed in a knife attack at his home in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Maulana Samiul Haq’s son, Hamidul Haq, led his father’s funeral prayer Saturday in the town of Akora Khattak in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.

Haq, the head of his faction of the Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam party, was killed Friday.

He was a revered teacher with influence over Pakistani militants and Afghanistan’s Taliban, many of whose leaders and commanders studied a strict interpretation of Islam at his Haqqani seminary, earning him the title of “father of the Taliban.”

In recent weeks, Afghan clerics had appealed to Haq to use his influence on Afghanistan’s Taliban to ensure peace there.

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