The Afghan Taliban leader’s brother was among four people killed in a blast at a mosque in southwestern Pakistan Friday, insurgent sources and a Pakistani official told AFP.
The Taliban have not officially commented, but an unofficial statement circulating among Taliban fighters on WhatsApp and seen by AFP confirmed the claim, reports BSS/AFP.
The blast comes at a delicate moment as a deal between the insurgents and Washington to end America’s war in Afghanistan is believed to be imminent.
Provincial police chief Mohsin Hassan Butt said the explosion — the latest violence in a string of attacks in restive Balochistan province — was caused by a remotely detonated bomb in the town of Kuchlak. ‘The death toll is four … and there are 23 others wounded,’ senior police official Abdul Razzaq Cheema told AFP.
A senior official with the Balochistan provincial government confirmed that Ahmadullah Azkhundzada, brother of the Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada, was among the dead.
‘This is confirmed that he is the brother of Haibatullah,’ he told AFP on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.
Two Taliban sources — one in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, and one in Chaman, on the border with Afghanistan — also said Ahmadullah had been killed.
‘The explosion took place while Hafiz Ahmadullah was reading sermon. Hafiz Ahmadullah was killed,’ one said.
The list of dead and wounded issued by Sandeman Hospital also carries the name ‘Hamdullah son of Maulvi Mohammad Khan’.
Taliban expert Rahimullah Yusufzai said the mosque was attached to a madrassa that had formerly been run by Haibatullah, the Taliban leader.
‘After he became the emir he left this place,’ Yusufzai told AFP.
‘His younger brother … was running the madrassas. He has been killed as far as we know.’
Local residents in Kuchlak on condition of anonymity also said the mosque belonged to the family.