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Kyrgyz Mufti Hospitalized After 'Severe' Beating

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's acting chief mufti, Suyun-Hajji Kuluev, has been hospitalized after being beaten during a religious gathering in the capital Bishkek, his family has told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

Kuluev's relatives told RFE/RL that about a dozen unidentified assailants attacked him on June 6 during a gathering of religious clerics and that he was hospitalized with concussion and injuries.

The Interior Ministry's press service told RFE/RL that since Kuluev has not filed an official complaint, no details of the incident are available.

The press service of the Muftiat, the country's highest religious authority, told RFE/RL that the attackers were shouting that Kuluev must resign.

Kuluev was recently named acting top cleric following the resignation of Abdushukur-hajji Narmatov.

Narmatov, in turn, had replaced long-serving mufti Murataaly-Hajji Juman-uulu, who stepped down following the deadly clashes between antigovernment protesters and security forces on April 7 that led to the resignation of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Juman-uulu was later kidnapped and taken to the outskirts of Bishkek. His abductors demanded a $1 million ransom. He was released in late April.