Mullah Akhtar Mansour

Fate of Afghan Taliban chief unclear

KABUL – Conflicting reports have deepened uncertainty surrounding the fate of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, after the militant group repeatedly denied he had been wounded in a gunfight with rival group leaders.

Several sources in the Taliban had said that Mansour was seriously wounded and possibly killed in a shootout at the house of another Taliban leader on Tuesday.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Mansour was wounded in a firefight. But Sultan Faizy – a spokesman for Afghan Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum – tweeted that the Taliban supremo had died of his injuries.

The Afghan Taliban’s main spokesman had dismissed the reports as propaganda from Afghan intelligence services meant to create divisions within the movement, saying Mansour was alive and well.

However, scepticism has been fuelled by the secrecy that surrounded the death of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, which was only confirmed in July, two years after he had died.

The incident came amidst the group’s division into two factions after Mansour succeeded former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar as the Taliban leader after Omar was confirmed dead in late July.

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