Kabul | Jagran World Desk: The Taliban co-founder and now deputy prime minister of Afghanistan, Abdul Ghani Baradar, released an audio statement on Monday (September 13) saying he was alive and well after the news of his supposed demise went viral on social media.

Baradar, who was last week named as a number two to Mullah Mohammed Hassan Akhund, blamed "fake propaganda" for the death rumours in an audio message posted by the Taliban.

The message was tweeted by Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem, following reports that Baradar had been injured or killed in clashes with rival Taliban factions at the presidential palace.

“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," Taliban spokesperson from Qatar office Suhail Shaheen also tweeted.

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," Baradar said in the clip. "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," he added.

"Media always publish fake propaganda. Therefore, reject bravely all those lies, and I 100 percent confirm to you there is no issue and we have no problem," Baradar said.

Although it was not possible to authenticate the message, 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.

(With inputs from AFP)

Posted By: Sugandha Jha