AKORA KHATTAK, Pakistan – Thousands of supporters and followers of an Islamic cleric and former senator who was regarded by many as the spiritual leader of the Afghan Taliban flocked to attend his funeral in northern Pakistan on Saturday.
Maulana Sami ul-Haq, a leader of the political party Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam, was killed in the northern city of Rawalpindi on Friday, although there are conflicting versions of how and where he died.
“He was resting in his room during Asr time when his driver-cum-bodyguard went out for 15 minutes,” his son Maulana Hamid ul-Haq told Pakistan’s Geo TV.
“When he returned, he found Maulana Sami ul-Haq dead in his bed and his body covered in blood,” he said, adding his father had been stabbed multiple times.
Haq was also the head of the Haqqania madrassa, an Islamic school in the north of Pakistan where many Taliban members including the radical group’s founder, Mullah Omar, had studied.
Haq, as a leader of the religious Jamiat Ulma-e-Islam party, had close ties to Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan’s PTI party.
Mohammad Bilal, one of Haq’s nephews, told reporters that his body had been found with gunshot and stabbing wounds at his house near Islamabad, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Rawalpindi.