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Taliban deny top leader died in shootout with rivals

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© KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images

The Taliban denied that a top leader died in a shootout with rivals amid rumors of internal divisions.

In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen denied the rumors about Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Shaheen said Baradar left a voice message "rejecting all those claims that he was injured or killed in a clash. He says it is lies and totally baseless."

The Taliban unveiled their new government last week following their rapid takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August.

Reuters noted that Baradar, who was named deputy prime minister, had not been seen in public recently. He was also not part of the delegation that met with Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani on Sunday.

Rumors had reportedly been circulating for days that Baradar's supporters had clashed with those of Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the militant Haqqani network based near the border for Pakistan.

Haqqani had been named acting interior minister under the new government.

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban's supreme leader, has also not been seen in public since the Taliban seized Kabul. However, he issued a public statement when the group formed its government, Reuters reported.

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