Afghanistan confirms Taliban chief’s death, group denies 

Kabul, Dec 4 (IANS) Conflicting reports have emerged over Afghanistan Taliban supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death as the government attempts to establish that the leader is dead, but the hardliner group has denied the reports that Mansour was injured at all.

Reports emerged on Tuesday that Mansour was severely injured during fighting between his supporters and opponents near the southern Pakistani city of Quetta, in Balochistan, but Taliban spokesman said the reports are “absolutely baseless”, Xinhua reported.

Mansour, according to the media reports, sustained serious injuries on Tuesday and since then has not been seen in public.

Several Taliban loyalists were killed and injured in the gunfight, according to the reports.

Afghanistan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in a tweet confirmed Mullah Mansour’s injury on Tuesday.

Sultan Faizy, the spokesman for first Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum, also on his Twitter account confirmed Mansour’s death on Thursday.

Mansour succeeded former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in August after confirmation of the Taliban supreme’s death by the Afghanistan government and the Taliban outfit in late July.

However, assuming leadership by Mansour has divided the group into several factions and the prominent one is led by Mullah Mohammad Rasoul, a close aide to Omar’s family.

Meantime, Zabihullah Mujahid, who claims to speak for the outfit, in a statement sent to media has dismissed the report as “absolutely baseless”, saying intelligence agencies by launching such propaganda were attempting to deceive the public opinions.

The media citing a former Taliban leader, Mullah Amir Khan Mutaqi, reported Mansour’s death on Thursday.

But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Mansour has never been injured.

Another Taliban spokesman, Qari Mohammad Yusuf Ahmadi, has utterly rejected as groundless the reports about Mansour.

In an online statement, Yusuf Ahmadi stated that no clash had taken place between Taliban in Kuchlak town of Quetta in Pakistan, and added Mansour was sound and leading the Jihad (holy war) against enemies in Afghanistan.

Meantime, Afghanistan political analyst Mawlana Farids has confirmed the internal fighting among Taliban factions.

He told the media that “Mansour might have been injured and even killed” but it was difficult to confirm the news because they were outside the country.

The supporters and opponents of Mansour have allegedly fought in Farah, Kunduz, Zabul, Nangarhar and other parts of Afghanistan over the past couple of months.

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