FILE PHOTO: Taliban deputy leader and negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and other delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2021. Alexander Zemlyanichenko/Pool via Reuters
September 14, 2021
(Reuters) – The Taliban have denied that a top leader was killed in a shootout with rivals, following rumors about internal divisions in the movement, nearly a month after its power victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul Is.
Taliban spokesman Sulail Shaheen said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former head of the Taliban’s political office, who was named deputy prime minister last week, issued a voice message claiming he was killed or wounded in a clash. .
Shaheen said in a message on Twitter, “He says this is a lie and completely baseless.”
The Taliban also released video footage purportedly showing Baradar at meetings in the southern city of Kandahar. Reuters could not immediately confirm the footage.
These rumors were refuted by rumors that Baradar’s supporters had clashed with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani network, which is located near the border with Pakistan and was blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war. .
The rumors follow speculation over a possible rivalry between military commanders such as Haqqani and political office leaders in Doha such as Baradar, who led diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement with the United States.
The Taliban have repeatedly denied speculation of internal divisions.
Baradar, once seen as a potential head of the Taliban government, was not seen in public for some time and was not part of a ministerial delegation that met Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday .
The movement’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has also not been seen in public since the capture of Kabul by the Taliban on August 15, although he issued a public statement last week at the time of the formation of the new government.
Speculation over Taliban leaders has been fed by the circumstances surrounding the death of the movement’s founder, Mullah Omar, which was made public only two years later in 2015, setting off bitter recriminations among the leadership.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mike Collett-White)