Afghan Taliban to release audio message of its chief

Islamabad, Dec 6 (IANS) Afghan Taliban said on Saturday that they would soon release an audio message of their chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor amid claims by Afghan officials that he was killed in gunfight in Pakistan.

The Taliban earlier rejected the claims and insisted that no incident of firing took place.

“The message of the chief of the Amir ul Momineen (commander of faithful), Mullah Akhtar has been received. We will release it soon, which will expose the ulterior motives of the enemy,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a brief message in Pashto and Dari languages sent to media.

Mujahid’s remarks came after Sultan Faizy, a spokesman for the first vice president of Afghanistan said in a Twitter post on Friday that Mansoor died of wounds a day after he was injured in gunfight at a meeting of the Taliban commanders.

The Taliban quickly dismissed the claim, saying it was “fabricated” by the Afghan intelligence agents as part of its propaganda campaign to create panic among the Taliban.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah issued an official statement in which he said, “The Afghan government confirms leader of a Taliban faction, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor” was wounded in a clash near Quetta, “but we don’t know whether he survived”.

In Islamabad, Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah has said authorities are not aware of the alleged firefight in Kuchlak area near Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.

“We have seen the media reports. We are not aware of this incident. However, we have noted that Taliban spokesperson has denied that any such firefight took place,” Khalilullah told weekly briefing on Thursday.

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