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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tajik Moslem Leader, Family Gunned Down

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- A Tajik Moslem leader, who supports the government in its battle against the Islamic opposition, was murdered by unidentified gunmen along with his family, officials said Monday.

Mufti Fathullohon Sharifzade, his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a spiritual disciple all died from gunshot wounds late Sunday night at their home on the southern outskirts of the capital, Dushanbe.

Obviously, it's a political murder," said Mizrob Kabirov, a security adviser to President Emomali Rakhmonov. "We don't rule out that it might have been carried out by the opposition.'' The killing came on the opening day of the Moslem fasting month of Ramadan.

Sharifzade was elected to the post in the fall of 1992, when Rakhmonov and his Moscow-backed loyalists won a victory in a bloody civil war against a broad coalition of Islamic and democratic forces.

Sharifzade, an open supporter of Rakhmonov's government, succeeded Khodzhiakbar Turadzhonzade, an opposition leader who is now in exile.