The Afghan Taliban has released an audio message purportedly from their leader dismissing claims that he was killed in a gunfight during a gathering of several Taliban figures in Pakistan on Tuesday.
In a 16-minute message released on Saturday, Mullah Akhtar Mansour advised his followers not to pay attention to rumors, describing them as “propaganda”.
“I have recorded my message to let everyone know that I am alive. I’ve never had a fight with anyone, no meeting was held and I have not been to Kuchlak (in Pakistan) in years. All this is a lie and a propaganda against us,” he said.
“This propaganda shows how weak those people are to say things that are not true.”
Afghan officials said on Wednesday that Mansour had been wounded on Tuesday in Pakistan. A day later, rumors began to circulate that the Taliban leader had succumbed to his injuries.
In his audio message, Mansour also said that the Taliban “won’t agree to have peace talks if our demands are not met”.
The claims over Mansour’s death came after renewed efforts to revive peace talks with Taliban fighters.
The negotiations were postponed after the announcement of the former Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death in late July, and his replacement by Mansour.