Taliban denies death of deputy prime minister



Taliban has denied that their deputy prime minister, Mullah Baradar, has been killed in a shootout with rivals, following rumors about internal splits in the movement nearly a month after its victory.

A Taliban spokesman, Sulail Shaheen said, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, former head of the Taliban political office who was named deputy prime minister last week, issued a voice message rejecting claims he had been killed or injured in a clash.

“It is lies and totally baseless,” he said.

The Taliban also released video footage purportedly showing Baradar at meetings in the southern city of Kandahar.

Baradar, had not been seen in public for some time and was not part of the ministerial delegation which met Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday.

The denials follow days of rumors that supporters of Baradar had clashed with those of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network that is based near the border with Pakistan and was blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

The rumors follow speculation over possible rivalries between military commanders like Haqqani and leaders from the political office in Doha like Baradar, who led diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement with the United States.

The Taliban have repeatedly denied the speculation over internal divisions.

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