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A bank security guard shot and killed a prominent Iranian cleric this week, a rare attack on a high-level religious figure that comes as the country continues to grapple with unrest, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Ayatollah Abbas Ali Soleimani was shot by the guard at a bank in the northern province of Mazandaran. Authorities arrested the suspect.

So far, authorities have not released information on the suspect’s motive but said the guard acted spontaneously and was not part of a broader terrorist plan.

Soleimani’s assassination comes after months of mass anti-government protests that began following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September, who died in the custody of the country’s morality police.

Demonstrations have also recently erupted over the suspected poisonings of hundreds of schoolgirls across Iran, which some Iranians blame on the government.

Soleimani was close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: The late cleric was a member of the Assembly of Experts, a body empowered to appoint the supreme leader of Iran.

Khamenei either directly appoints or vets the assembly’s membership.

Soleimani was Khamenei’s former clerical envoy to the provincial capital of Sistan-Baluchistan, a province on Iran’s eastern border that has long been a center of unrest.

The killing marks the first time in recent memory that a religious figure has been targeted, even though he is the latest in a long list of assassinations that have taken place in Iran.

The Iranian government has accused Israel of carrying out previous attacks, including the killing of a top nuclear scientist in 2020 and an attack on a nuclear program facility in 2021.

Israel has not taken responsibility for these attacks.

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