Afghanistan: Former Taliban leader killed trying to escape to Iran

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A Taliban leader from the Shiite Hazara minority has been killed while trying to escape to Iran, Afghanistan’s defense ministry said today, denying reports that he had died in custody.

Mehdi Mujahid left the Taliban movement when, earlier this year, he was ousted as the head of the intelligence service in Bamiyan province. The majority of the inhabitants of this region are Khazars.

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Mujahid assumed this position in August 2021, when the Islamists captured Kabul. His appointment was seen as an attempt by the Taliban to fulfill their pledge that the new administration would include all of the country’s ethnic and religious minorities.

According to local media, the ouster of the Hazara leader is linked to his control of the lucrative coal trade in Balhab district, which borders Bamiyan province. To this region he retired after his deposing, together with many fighters who remained loyal to him. In June the Taliban launched an attack on them.

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Due to the conflicts, many residents of the area were forced to flee to the surrounding mountains, where living conditions are very difficult.

The Ministry of Defense announced today that border guards located Mehdi Mujahid in Herat province, near Iran “where he wanted to take refuge” and “punished him for his actions”.

Mujahid was alone and “wanted to cross illegally into Iran,” a local official, Naemul Haq Haqqani, said, adding that he was “killed in an exchange of fire.”

However, photos circulating on social media sites show Mujahid alive, detained and surrounded by two Taliban, suggesting he was later executed. Haqqani denied this information. “The rumors that this person was captured alive are false,” he said.

The Hazaras of Afghanistan were persecuted for decades and mainly by the Taliban, during the first period of government of the country by their movement (1996-2001). They remain to this day a target of the Islamic State, which considers them heretics.

Source: AMPE

Source: Capital

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