KABUL (Pajhwok): Taliban’s breakaway faction on Friday denied the killing of Mullah Mansoor Dadullah during clashes in the Khak-i-Afghan district of southern Zabul province.
A day earlier, Zabul’s deputy police chief, Ghulam Jilani Farahi, said the dreaded insurgent commander had been killed by Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor Akhtar’s supporters in the Kulrghan area of the district.
But a spokesman for the splinter group, Qari Hamza, told Pajhwok Afghan News opponents had spread propaganda about Dadullah’s death to hide the heavy casualties they had suffered during clashes.
“According to my information, Mansoor Dadullah is very much alive and kicking,” he remarked, claiming Mullah Mansoor’s loyalists had suffered many casualties during clashes in the restive province.
Qari Hamza vehemently denied his faction’s involvement in the beheading of seven civilians from the Hazara community, including four women and a child, in Khak-i-Afghan district on November 8.
The decapitations have triggered a wave of angry protests in Kabul and several other provinces, with a large of demonstrators trying to storm the heavily-fortified Presidential Palace in the capital.
Before the fighting erupted in Zabul, the group’s spokesman said, they held all hostages. But the fighters vacated several areas in the wake of attacks from supporters of Akhtar Mohammad.
Qari Hamza accused the rival outfit of killing the civilians to defame the breakaway faction. The slayings have prompted civil society, residents and rights groups to denounce all Taliban factions and the Islamic State.
Earlier in the year, Mansoor Dadullah refused to swear allegiance to the new Taliban leader and joined forces with a number of Uzbek rebels in Khak-i-Afghan.
Dadullah is a brother of former Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah. A month ago, Mullah Rassoul, a Taliban commander, created the splinter new group and named Dadullah as its deputy leader.