A top Taliban leader has said he is alive, denying rumours of his killing that surfaced following reports of an internal split in the Taliban group nearly a month after it took over Kabul.
The Taliban’s deputy prime minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar appeared in an interview with the country’s national broadcaster on Wednesday and revealed he was “travelling from Kabul so had no access to the media in order to reject this news”.
“This news is not true. Thank God I am absolutely fine and healthy,” he told Radio Television Afghanistan, according to the Associated Press.
“The news about our internal conflict the media are reporting is also not true. We have compassion among ourselves, more than a family. We assure the Afghan nation, Mujahideen, elders, and youth do not worry and there is no reason to be worried.”
The Taliban also released video footage purportedly showing Baradar at meetings in the southern city of Kandahar.
Baradar served as the chief negotiator during talks between the Taliban and the US that paved the way for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan which was completed in late August, two weeks after the Taliban took over the capital.
The denials follow days of rumours that Baradar’s supporters 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 Taliban have repeatedly denied the speculation over internal divisions.
Baradar, once seen as the likely head of a Taliban government, 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.
Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhunzada, has also not been seen in public since the armed group seized the capital on August 15, although he issued a public statement when it named the group’s new government last week.