Kabul wants to establish fate of ‘injured’ Taliban leader
Afghan officials scrambled Thursday to establish whether Taliban supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansour was still alive, after sources said he was “critically” wounded in a firefight following a bitter argument with commanders in the divided militant movement.
It remains unclear whether Mansour survived the gunfight, which threatens to derail a renewed regional push to jump-start peace talks with the Taliban.
The clash broke out just four months after Mansour was appointed Taliban leader in an acrimonious leadership succession soon after the group belatedly confirmed longtime chief Mullah Omar’s death.
The Taliban officially rejected as “absolutely baseless” the reports of the firefight, which officials and militant sources said was triggered by an altercation at an insurgent gathering that cascaded out of control.
“We are trying to establish whether Mansour is dead or alive,” said Sultan Faizi, the spokesman for the Afghan first vice president.
“His situation is critical,” Faizi said, citing credible information.
Sources said that Mansour had been “very seriously injured” in a “heavy exchange of fire” at a gathering of militant commanders near the Pakistani city of Quetta.