Taliban leaders in bust-up at presidential palace

Afghanistan: Taliban leaders in bust-up at presidential palace, sources say

A major row broke out between leaders of the Taliban just days after they set up a new government in Afghanistan.

An argument broke out between the Taliban’s co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, the minister of refugees in the current government and a prominent leader of the US designated terrorist organization Haqqani network, sources told BBC Pashto.

According to a Taliban source, the two exchanged strong words while their supporters clashed with each other nearby.

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The news of an internal rift comes as speculation has been mounting over the disappearance of the Islamist group’s two top figures – supreme leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada and deputy prime minister Mr Baradar – from public view.

Baradar was also absent from the ministerial delegation that met with Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday – an occasion he would usually have attended.

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Rumours about a fallout have been spreading since late last week, when Mr Baradar – one of the best-known faces of the Taliban – disappeared from public view. There was speculation on social media that he might have died.

The Taliban sources told the BBC that Mr Baradar had left Kabul and travelled to the city of Kandahar following the row.

In an audio recording purportedly of Mr Baradar released on Monday, the Taliban co-founder said he had been “away on trips”.

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“Wherever I am at the moment, we are all fine,” he said.

Speculation remains over the Taliban’s supreme commander, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who has never been seen in public. He is in charge of the Taliban’s political, military and religious affairs.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister on Tuesday called for international donors to restart aid, saying the international community should not politicize their assistance.