Taliban Denies Death Rumours of Deputy PM Baradar, Releases Audio

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Amid rumours of Taliban co-founder Mullah Ghani Baradar’s death, the Taliban on Monday, 13 September, released an audio message on Twitter where Baradar can be heard saying that he is “alive and well” and dismissed reports of any injury in a clash, reported Reuters.

Taliban spokesperson Sulail Shaheen, quoting Baradar, said that the rumours are lies and are “totally baseless”. The Taliban also released a video footage showing Baradar allegedly in meetings in Kandahar.

The Taliban's statement comes on the heels of the rumours that supporters of Baradar clashed with forces of the Haqqani Network, an Islamist terror mafia based near the Afghan-Pakistan border. It is led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, a global terrorist, and has been blamed for some of the worst atrocities in the country. Sirajuddin has been appointed as the Interior Minister and will be in control of the Afghan Nation Police, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics.

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Speculation intensified about Baradar’s death, after Taliban leaders met with senior delegates from Qatar in Kabul on Sunday, 12 September, where Baradar was reportedly absent.

Baradar, who has been the face of the Taliban’s negotiation team and led the militant groups office in Doha, was seen as the likely candidate to lead the Taliban Cabinet but was edged out.

The group's religious leader Mullah Hassan Akhund has been appointed as the acting prime minister of the country. However, Akhund has remained in the shadows since the group took over Afghanistan on 15 August. He was also rumoured to be dead before he surfaced on 15 August.

Three weeks after the Taliban took over the country, on 7 September it unveiled a new acting Cabinet. However, with no women and the presence of only three ethnic minorities in the Cabinet, it is a far cry from “inclusive” and “representative” as the the group earlier asserted.

(With inputs from Reuters and IANS)

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