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Sunni Imam Shot Dead In Northern Iran

Abdul Ghafour Jamalzadeh a Sunny cleric. File photo
Abdul Ghafour Jamalzadeh a Sunny cleric. File photo
Tehran, Nov 27, 2018 (AFP) -

A Sunni imam who leads Friday prayers was shot dead on Tuesday in a village in northern Iran, official news agency IRNA said.

Molavi Abdolghafur Jamalzahi was an imam at the Reza Abad mosque, near Ramiyan, around 120 kilometres (75 miles) northeast of Tehran in Golestan province.

He was shot four times as he returned home from the mosque, IRNA said.

Reza Abad has around 4,000 residents and a "large number of foreigners and refugees", the news agency said.

It said that the authorities have not yet put forward a motive for Jamalzahi's murder, but cited an anonymous source saying it could be linked to "personal hostilities and tribal strife".

Jamalzahi was a Baluchi, an ethnic group that is found in southeastern Iran and western Pakistan.

Iran is a Shiite powerhouse, but the country's constitution says Sunnis -- who account for 10 percent of the population -- are "free to perform their religious rites according to their religious jurisprudence".

Imams who lead Friday prayers, whether Sunni or Shiite, are appointed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest religious and political authority.