Taliban release audio message to prove leader is alive

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor urges followers to ignore rumours of his death, describing them as "a lie and a propaganda".

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    Mansoor was announced as the new Taliban leader in late July after the group confirmed the death of Mullah Omar [Reuters]
    Mansoor was announced as the new Taliban leader in late July after the group confirmed the death of Mullah Omar [Reuters]

    The Afghan Taliban have released an audio message purportedly from their leader dismissing claims that he was killed in a gunfight during a gathering of several Taliban figures in Pakistan.

    In a 16-minute message released on Saturday, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor advised his followers not to pay attention to rumours, describing them as "propaganda".

    "I have recorded my message to let everyone know that I am alive. I've never had a fight with anyone, no meeting was held and I have not been to Kuchlak [in Pakistan] in years. All this is a lie and a propaganda against us," he said.

    "This propaganda shows how weak those people are to say things that are not true."


    Related: Taliban denies leader was injured in a gunfight


    Afghan officials said on Wednesday that Mansoor had been wounded on Tuesday in Pakistan. A day later, they claimed the Taliban leader had succumbed to his injuries. 

    Peace talks

    In his audio message, Mansoor also said that the Taliban "won't agree to have peace talks if our demands are not met".

    The claims over Mansoor's death came after renewed efforts to revive peace talks with Taliban fighters.

    The negotiations were postponed after the announcement of the Taliban leader Mullah Omar's death in late July, and his replacement by Mansoor.


    Related: Profile: Mullah Akhtar Mansoor 


    But factions emerged following Mansoor's appointment, with some saying the decision was not made with everyone's consent.

    Rifts 

    Last month, the breakaway faction of the Taliban elected its own leader, Mullah Mohammed Rasool Akhund, sparking speculation over the unity of the group. 

    The spokesperson of the breakaway faction, Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, expressed interest in peace talks last month. 

    Violent clashes between the two rival Taliban groups erupted in southern Afghanistan early last month leaving several dead from both sides and confirming the rift.

    Mansoor is only the second leader the Taliban have had, after Omar, an elusive figure who founded the group in the 1990s.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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