In the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, thousands of people protested against the radical Islamic Taliban. The crowd gathered in front of the governor’s seat of government after around 3,000 families were asked to vacate a military housing estate, a former government official told Reuters on Tuesday. In addition, video footage from local media showed people blocking a street in the city.
So far, members of army members have lived in the settlement, some of them for over 30 years. According to the former government official, they were given three days to leave the area. The Taliban did not initially provide a statement.
In Kabul, an Islamist spokesman rejected reports of deadly power struggles at the top of the group. The Deputy Prime Minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, contradicted claims in a voice message that he was killed in a shootout with rivals, Taliban spokesman Sulail Shahin tweeted. The Taliban also released a video that Baradar is supposed to show at a meeting in Kandahar. Reuters was initially unable to verify the authenticity of the video.
There is speculation in Kabul that there were clashes between supporters of Baradar and those of Interior Minister Siradschuddin Hakkani. So far, the Taliban have always fought power struggles at their top.
Baradar has not appeared in public for a while. The same goes for the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Achundsada. Speculation about the whereabouts of the men is fueled by the handling of the death of Taliban co-founder Mullah Omar, head of state during the first Taliban rule from 1996 to 2001. Omar’s death was officially confirmed in 2015, two years after his death. This had sparked violent mutual accusations in the Taliban leadership at the time.