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Taliban deny their deputy prime minister, Mullah Baradar, is dead By Reuters


© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: Mullah Abul Ghani Baradar is the Taliban leader during negotiations between the Afghan government in Doha and Taliban insurgents on September 12, 2020. REUTERS/Ibraheem al Omari

(Corrects spelling of name in paragraph 2)

(Reuters) -The Taliban have denied that one of their top leaders has been killed in a shootout with rivals, following rumours about internal splits in the movement nearly a month after its lightning victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul.

Suhail Shaheen claimed that Mullah Abul Ghani Baradar (ex-head of the Taliban’s political office) was killed or seriously injured during a clash.

Shaheen stated that it was liars and completely untrue in a Twitter message (NYSE:).

Also, video footage was released by Taliban showing Baradar in meetings in Kandahar. Reuters was unable to immediately confirm the footage.

After days of reports that Baradar’s supporters were at odds with Sirajuddin Haqqani (head of Haqani network which is based close to Pakistan border) and had been blamed for many of the suicide attacks in war, the denials are not surprising.

These rumours are based on speculation regarding rivalries between Haqqani, military commanders, and Baradar (political office in Doha), who led diplomatic efforts for a resolution with the United States.

Rumours about internal divisions have been denied by the Taliban repeatedly.

Baradar was once thought to be the leader of a Taliban government. He has not been in public in a while and was not part the Kabul ministerial delegation that met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Qatari Foreign Minister.

Even though he released a public statement after the formation of the new government last week, Mullah Habatullah Akhundzada has not been seen since August 15, when the Taliban captured Kabul.

The circumstances surrounding Mullah Omar’s death, which occurred two years ago, has fueled speculation about Taliban leaders. This triggered bitter recriminations within the leadership.

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