The Taliban co-founder and now deputy prime minister of Afghanistan released an audio statement on Monday saying he was alive and well after news of his supposed demise went viral on social media.
Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was last week named as the number two to Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund, blamed “fake propaganda” for the death rumours in an audio message posted by the Taliban.
Social media has been in a frenzy over the speculation — particularly in India, where rumours swirled that he had been mortally wounded in a shootout between rival Taliban factions at the presidential palace.
“There had been news in the media about my death. Over the past few nights I have been away on trips. Wherever I am at the moment, we are all fine, all my brothers and friends,” Baradar said in the clip.
“Media always publish fake propaganda. Therefore, bravely reject all those lies, and I 100 percent confirm to you there is no issue and we have no problem.”
Taliban spokesperson from Qatar office Suhail Shaheen also tweeted denying the reports of the Taliban co-founder’s death.
Mullah Bradar Akhund, Deputy PM, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in a voice message rejected all those claims that he was injured or killed in a clash. He says it is lies and totally baseless.
— Suhail Shaheen. (@suhailshaheen1) September 13, 2021
It was not possible to authenticate the message, but it was posted on official Taliban sites — including that of the spokesman of the political office of the new government.
The Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, was also rumoured to have died for several years before the group’s spokesman said he was “present in Kandahar” two weeks after they took power.
Chatter in Pakistan and Afghanistan had suggested he had contracted Covid or been killed in a bombing.