Afghan police have arrested a cleric for allegedly raping a 10-year-old schoolgirl in northern Afghanistan, officials said Monday.


Maulawi Sayed Ahmad was arrested in Aybak, the capital of Samangan province, on Saturday after police caught him in the act of sexually assaulting the girl, the interior ministry said in a statement.

"He was arrested by police while raping a 10-year old girl," provincial spokesman Sediq Azizi told AFP, adding that Ahmad was a prayer leader in a mosque in the provincial capital.

She regularly went to the man's house for lessons in reading and writing, he said.

"The girl has been taken to a hospital and police have launched an investigation," he added.

Afghanistan, a strictly religious country where clerics are highly respected, has seen a string of recent high-profile cases involving violence against women.

On Sunday, an Afghan man in the southern province of Helmand killed his two teenage daughters when they returned home four days after running away with a man.

The father, who shot the girls, was detained on murder charges.

[Muslim cleric via Lizette Potgieter / Shutterstock.com]