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After Death Rumors, Taliban Co-Founder Issues an Audio Statement

September 13, 2021

After news of his supposed demise spread on social media, the Taliban co-founder and now Afghanistan’s deputy prime minister issued an audio statement Monday saying he was alive and well. In an audio message posted by the Taliban, Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was named as Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund’s number two last week, blamed “propaganda and lies” for the death rumors.

The uncertainty has fueled frenzy on social media, particularly in India, where rumors circulated that he had been critically injured in a ‘shootout between rival Taliban factions’ at the presidential palace. “There had been media coverage of my death,” Baradar said in the video. “I’ve been away on trips for the past few nights.” We’re all fine, my brothers and friends, wherever I am right now.

“Fake propaganda is always published by the media. As a result, reject all of those lies bravely, and I can assure you that there is no problem and that we have no problem.” The message could not be verified, but it was posted on official Taliban websites, including the political office of the new government’s spokesman. Hibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s supreme leader, was also rumored to have died for several years before the group’s spokesman said he was “present in Kandahar” two weeks after they took power.

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