Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, one of the most important political figures among the Iranian clergy before the overthrow of the shah, died today at the age of 68, the state radio announced.
Taleghani, always regarded as a moderate in the clerical hierachy, commanded a million-strong following in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
As a campaigner against the monarchy, Taleghani at one time spent 10 years in prison. He also served other shorter terms.
Meanwhile, unidentified attackers killed 46 Kurdish villagers at the height of the antigovernment rebellion in Kurdistan, the governor general of West Azerbaijan Province, Jamshid Haggu, said yesterday.
He said the killings occurred at the village of Gharneh, not far from where 15 Islamic Revolutionary Guards were killed last Sunday in an attack on their bus by Kurdish guerrillas.
Haggu said the two incidents were related and blamed the killing of Kurdish villagers on "counterrevolutionaries" trying to provoke conflict between the province's rival Kurds and Turks.
In other developments in Iran:
A man convicted of torturing a prisoner was sentence to have his eyes gouged out and three teeth pulled by a revolutionary court in the Kurdish city of Mahabad, the newspaper Tehran Times reported. After the teeth had been pulled, the prisoner's family pardoned the man and spared his eyes, it said. The sentence reported was ordered by roving Islamic judge Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali.
The government confirmed that Education Minister Gholam Hossein Shokuhi has resigned 10 days before the start of the new university term, during which campus troubles are expected.
The government seized all assets of the Etelaat and Kayhan newspapers. Etelaat was criticized for publishing a photograph recently of a revolutionary firing squad executing alleged Kurdish rebels. The photograph later appeared in foreign newspapers.