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Pro-peace Muslim cleric assassinated

world Updated: May 17, 2010 11:05 IST

A prominent Muslim cleric pushing for peace has been assassinated in eastern Afghanistan along with two members of his family, the latest in a rash of killings targeting Afghan government figures and others aligned with international forces.

Kunar provincial police chief Gen. Khalilullah Zaiyie said on Monday that cleric Rahman Gul, his brother and a relative were killed Sunday in the Chapa Dara district as they were returning to their homes.

In recent days, Gul has been stressing the importance of "peace and stability" across Afghanistan. Gul was chief cleric in his district and was a member of a clerical council for eastern Afghanistan.

Two members of the NATO coalition, including one American servicemember, also were killed on Sunday in southern Afghanistan, the allied coalition reported. NATO has not disclosed the nationality of the NATO servicemember, who died in a roadside bomb explosion, or details about the death of the U.S. troop. Twenty-five NATO troops, including 16 U.S. service members, have been killed so far this month across Afghanistan, many in the south where NATO troops are moving in as part of a stepped-up security operation in Kandahar.

Late Sunday in Kandahar, a suicide bomber detonated his cache of explosives near the gate of an Afghan Border Police residence. Kandahar Police Chief Sher Mohammed Zazai said at least three people were wounded in the attack in the northeast part of the city. "There was a suicide attacker on a motorbike who blew himself up when he got near the gate," Zazai said.

Zelmai Ayubi, spokesman for the provincial governor of Kandahar, said at least four border policemen were injured. He said two other suicide attackers entered the police compound, but were shot dead by police during a gunbattle before they could detonate their vests of explosives.

Earlier on Sunday, two militants on a motorbike opened fire in Kandahar on a car belonging to a National Security Directorate official who was on his way to work, Zazai said. The intelligence official's driver was killed.

Southern Afghanistan is the birthplace of the Taliban and has been the hub of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks between militants and coalition forces and troops of President Hamid Karzai's government.