In an exclusive interview with Aljazeera, Mulla Abd al-Latif Hakimi said the rumour had begun after US forces decided to release prominent Taliban member, Mulla Mutawakkil Akhondzada.

A one-time foreign minister, Mulla Mutawakkil was a familiar face on TV screens as Taliban spokesman before the US-led war to oust the Taliban in 2001.

But the Taliban spokesman said Mutawakkil's "release" amounted to nothing more than house arrest in Kandahar.

"He cannot freely speak his opinion ... it is not freedom. In any case, we will never cease our enmity with the Americans and other occupiers who have illegally invaded Afghanistan."

Casualties

Hakimi added that the Taliban was able to target US soldiers with increasing ease and gave numerous examples.

"We killed 18 American soldiers near the Maryam school in Gazney province, another three in the town of Zargary.

"In the mountains of Khoyani we set a trap in a depot and killed 43 US soldiers with one bomb."

"We never let the Americans sleep in their base at Khost. Every night there is a rocket attack."

The mulla claimed the Taliban were well-organised and had units "from Spin Buldak to Badakshan, Torkham to Shir Khan Bandar and Torgondi to Zarang".

Pakistan

The cleric also denied that the Taliban was crossing the Pakistani border in order to attack government forces there, saying the situation was the exact opposite.

"The Pakistani government is trying hard to operate against the Taliban. It is they who hunt mujahidin in north and south Waziristan and hunt for those who oppose American occupation in Afghanistan."

A Pakistani officer covers a
tribal Taliban sympathiser

Pakistani paramilitaries have attacked various villages in the northern province of Waziristan since mid-March, attempting to end tribal support for Taliban soldiers.

Though aware of operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan to crush Islamist forces, Hakimi played down their chances of success.

"History shows that maintaining an invasion and occupation in Afghanistan is extremely difficult. We have faith in Allah and confidence in our mujahidin, Shaikh Usama [bin Ladin] as well as [Qalb al-Din] Hekmatyar."

Hekmatyar is head of the Hizb-e-Islami and has recently made an alliance with Taliban.

Blocking US-backed elections

The spokesman also described plans to disrupt approaching elections in addition to its policy of targeting foreign forces on Afghan soil.

"We do not accept the so-called elections in Afghanistan. The current administration is a puppet.

"This is a toy government and toy elections. The Americans should go now. We know how to live with each other here and we can fix things ourselves."

Addressing his last comment to the White House, Hakimi said that Taliban were not the ones who had started the fight against US forces.

President George Bush "has made the world hate America by sending their forces all over the world.

"In the past, we did not despise or hate Americans as people. But Bush now makes us disrespect them just as Moscow's armies made us hate Russians."