Taliban caretaker chief appointed after Mullah Mansoor’s ‘death’
Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has reportedly died and Taliban has appointed Moulavi Haibatullah Akhunzada as the new caretaker chief, Pakistan’s local Urdu TV Channel 24 quoted its own sources from Afghanistan as saying Friday night.
Channel 24, without identifying its sources, said Mansour succumbed to the injuries that he sustained on Wednesday in a gunfight following a harsh argument during a meeting of Afghan Taliban commanders near Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta.
Akhunzada, who was the deputy chief of Taliban and a member of the supreme council, has been appointed as the new caretaker chief of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban), reports said.
A source in Afghanistan also showed an alleged picture of Mansoor depicting that he is dead, but it was not confirmed.
Sultan Faizy, spokesman for Afghan first Vice President General Abdul Rashid Dostum, said in his twitter account late Thursday that Mullah Mansoor succumbed to injuries he suffered during a gunfight.
Earlier on Friday, a spokesman of Afghan Taliban, however, rejected the report, saying the reports are “baseless, untrue propaganda of the enemy and intelligence agencies trying to sow confusion among the people.”
“We do not have any reports about the incident (gunfight),” Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said.
Afghan officials said Mansoor was fatally injured on Wednesday during a meeting of the Afghan Taliban in Kuchlak area, some 25 km from Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan.
An official told media in Kabul on Wednesday that the firing started in a meeting at the residence of a Taliban leader, Abdullah Sarhadi. At least four other Taliban commanders were killed in the firing.
Sarhadi denied the incident, according to a section of the Afghan media.
On Thursday, Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, rejected the reports as “part of propaganda by the Afghan intelligence agents”.
“Our credible sources state that Amir-ul-Mumineen (the Chief of faithful) has no presence in the stated area. The enemy falsely claimed that the incident took place in the home of Sarhadi, despite the fact that his home is not even based in Kuchlak region,” the statement said.
On July 29, Mansoor was appointed the chief of Afghan Taliban to replace former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar who passed away two years ago after a prolonged illness. Members of the leading council of the Taliban had also appointed Akhunzada and Mullah Sirajuddin Haqqani as the deputy heads.
According to Afghan media, the appointment of Mansoor triggered controversies among Taliban ranks as different groups refused to accept him as the successor of Omar, the founder of Taliban.
Since Mansoor assumed leadership of Taliban, a couple of severe armed clashes between his group and other Taliban groups had been reported.