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Afghanistan Seeks News On Fate Of Taliban Chief

Mullah Akhtar Mansur

Afghan officials say they are trying to determine whether Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur is still alive after he was reportedly seriously wounded in a firefight after a dispute with fellow commanders in Pakistan.

"We are trying to establish whether Mansur is dead or alive," said Sultan Faizi, spokesman for Afghan First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.

He said a shoot-out after a heated argument with Mullah Abdullah Sardari, a Taliban commander, left Mullah Mansur in "critical" condition.

The Taliban officially called the reports about Mansur "absolutely baseless."

But a senior Pakistani intelligence official told AFP that Mansur had been "very seriously injured" in what he described as a "heavy exchange of fire" at a gathering of militant commanders near the Pakistani city of Quetta on December 1.

Afghan Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah said there are confirmed reports of Mansur being injured but none of his death.

Several people were also reportedly killed or injured in the altercation.

The Taliban has had a resurgence under Mansur in its fight against government forces.

The firefight broke out just four months after Mansur was named to lead the Taliban after the extremist group said chief Mullah Omar had died in 2013.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and AFP