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    Top Kandahar cleric among three killed in suicide blast (UPDATED)

    KANDAHAR CITY (PAN): Maulvi Hikmatullah Hikmat, the head of Kandahar Ulema Council, was killed in a suicide blast in Kandahar on Thursday.

    Two others were killed and another 15 people injured in the explosion. The attacker entered a mosque hosting a prayer gathering for the slain brother of President Hamid Karzai and detonated explosives strapped to his body, the governor's spokesman, Zalmay Ayubi, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    The dead included Kandahar Ulema Council chief Maulvi Hikmat and the imam of Kharqi Mathari Mosque. The third person killed has not been identified, Ayubi said.

    But Interior Ministry spokesman Ghulam Siqiq Sidiqi, said four people had been killed in the attack, with another 15 sustaining injuries.

    He said high-ranking government officials were present at the gathering, but none were hurt.

    The attack took place at around noon Thursday. Eyewitnesses said the injured and dead were taken the Mirwais Hospital by police.

    Wali Karzai, the half-brother of President Hamid Karzai and the chief of the Kandahar provincial council, was killed by one of his guards at his home in Kandahar City on Tuesday. He was buried near the tomb of his father on Wednesday.