(Tehran) A senior religious leader was killed on Wednesday in northern Iran in an attack led by a gunman who was arrested, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Ayatollah Abbas Ali Soleimani, 75, was one of 88 members of the Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for appointing the Supreme Leader, the country’s highest authority.

He “was killed this morning in an armed attack” in Babolsar, a town on the shores of the Caspian Sea about 230 km north of Tehran, IRNA said quoting an official. “‚ÄČThe assailant was arrested by the security forces‚ÄČ”, added the agency.

Ayatollah Soleimani served as the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Friday prayer leader in Kashan, a central city between Tehran and Isfahan, and in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Balochistan, a southeastern region populated in part by Sunni Muslims. Iran is a majority Shia country.

The Assembly of Experts, of which he was a member, is a body composed of 88 clerics elected for eight years by direct universal suffrage from a group of candidates approved by the Council of Guardians.

She is responsible for appointing the Supreme Leader and overseeing his work of the Supreme Leader. She is constitutionally empowered to revoke him and appoint a new one if she deems it necessary.

In April 2022, an attack carried out by suspected jihadists in the holy city of Mashhad (northeast) caused the death of two Shiite clerics.