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Taliban denies rumors of mullah Baradar’s death

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Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Baradar is rumored to have died following a shootout between rival Taliban clans. Abdul Ghani Baradar broadcast a voice message in which he denies having been killed and denounces “false propaganda”.

The rumor of the death of Mullah Baradar had been swelling for several days in Afghanistan. The Taliban denied, Tuesday, September 14, that this leader was killed in a shootout with rivals within the movement, amid rumors of internal divisions almost a month after their victorious entry into Kabul.

Mullah Baradar had not appeared in public for many days and was not part of the ministerial delegation that met Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohamed ben Abdulrahman al Thani on Sunday in Kabul.

Taliban spokesman Sulail Shaheen said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, former head of the Taliban’s political bureau and appointed deputy prime minister of Afghanistan last week, released a voicemail in which he denies being killed or injured in a clash.

“Information published in the media announced my death. I was on the move for the last few days. And where I am right now, we are fine, with my brothers and friends,” said Mullah Baradar in this message. “The media always disseminate false propaganda. Accordingly, I strongly deny all these lies, and confirm to you 100% that we have no dispute or problem.”

The Taliban have also released videos purporting to show Mullah Baradar attending meetings in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of these documents.

Internal divisions among the Taliban military leaders

These denials come after several days of rumors about possible clashes between supporters of Mullah Baradar and those of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network located near the Pakistan border and considered one of the most radical and violent fringes of the Taliban movement .

Rumors also focus more broadly on internal divisions between Taliban military leaders like Sirajuddin Haqqani and their political representatives, such as Mullah Baradar, who spearheaded diplomatic efforts in Doha to reach an agreement with the United States that led the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

The Taliban have consistently denied any internal dissent.

The Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has meanwhile not been seen in public since the capture of Kabul on August 15, although he issued a statement during the formation of the new government last week. Rumors circulating in Pakistan and Afghanistan said that he was particularly sick with Covid-19, or killed in a bombing.

The Taliban did not confirm the death of their founder, Mullah Omar, until 2015, two years later.

With AFP and Reuters