A prominent Taliban cleric, Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, was killed today in an attack in a seminary in Kabul, Afghanistan when the attacker detonated explosives hidden in a plastic artificial leg.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group's channel on Telegram.

Mr Haqqani was known for his fiery speeches against IS and had survived at least two previous assassination attempts - including one in Pakistan in October 2020 in which seven people died.

The senior cleric had recently spoken publicly in favour of girls being allowed to attend school.

"Very sadly informed that respected cleric (Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani) was martyred in a cowardly attack by enemies," said Bilal Karimi, a spokesperson for the Taliban administration.

Four Taliban sources told Reuters the attacker was someone who had previously lost his leg and had hidden the explosives in a plastic artificial leg.

"We are investigating who this ... person was and who had brought him to this important place to enter the personal office of Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani.

"It's a very huge loss for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan," said one senior Taliban official of the interior ministry, referring to the group's name for its administration.

The Taliban said they have restored security since they took over as foreign forces, including the US, withdrew almost a year ago.

However, regular attacks, many of them claimed by Islamic State, have taken place in recent months, often targeting religious and ethnic minorities as well as Taliban leaders.