An influential cleric in Pakistan known as the "Father of the Taliban" has been assassinated inside his own home, reports Geo News. The son of Maulana Sami ul-Haq says his father, believed to be in his early 80s, was stabbed to death while at home Friday. Other reports suggested he may have been shot, too. The cleric's bodyguard had left him alone for about 15 minutes, and "when he returned, he found Maulana Sami ul-Haq dead in his bed and his body covered in blood," the son tells Geo. No group immediately claimed responsibility. Dawn notes that the assassination comes at a volatile time in Pakistan, following the acquittal of a Christian woman on blasphemy charges.
In fact, the cleric had attempt to join protests against the acquittal Friday, but he returned home because of blocked roads, says his son. It wasn't clear if the protests were connected to his slaying. Haq had twice served as a senator in Pakistan and had close ties to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, reports the Daily Pakistan. He apparently earned his nickname "Father of the Taliban" by serving as leader of a seminary through which many prominent members of the group emerged. Last month, he had been asked by a delegation from Afghanistan to use his Taliban contacts to help broker an end to the Afghan conflict, per Dawn. (That conflict continues to take the lives of US soldiers.)