KABUL: The Taliban Saturday denied reports of the death of the founder of Haqqani network.
Some Pakistani media reported the death of Jalaluddin Haqqani, said to be in his 70s, on Friday when his son Sirajuddin was announced as one of the deputy chiefs of the Taliban following the death of its longtime leader Mullah Omar.
“Some media outlets spread reports… about the death of a distinguished personality… Jalaluddin Haqqani,” the Taliban said in a statement posted on their website.
“This claim has no basis. Haqqani… was ill before but he has been blessed with good health for a prolonged period now and has no troubles currently.”
Haqqani’s family also rejected rumours of his death, according to an Afghan Taliban commander who spoke to AFP from an undisclosed location in northwestern Pakistan.
“I talked to his grandson (who is somewhere in eastern Afghanistan) and he completely rejected rumours of his death,” the commander said.
“‘My grandfather is alive, I talked to him last week. He was weak and sick but alive and in good spirits’, he told me.”
The Afghan Taliban named Mullah Akhtar Mansour as their new chief on Friday, a historic power transition that raises hopes a more moderate leadership will pave the way for peace talks despite divisions within insurgent ranks.
The Taliban also announced his deputies — Sirajuddin, who has a $10 million US bounty on his head, and Haibatullah Akhundzada, former head of the Taliban courts.