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Taliban leaders missing ‘due to major row at Kabul palace’

A major row broke out between leaders of the Taliban just days after they set up a new government in Afghanistan, senior Taliban officials told the BBC.

Supporters of two rival factions reportedly brawled at the presidential palace in the capital Kabul.

The argument appeared to centre on who did the most to secure victory over the US, and how power was divided up in the new cabinet.

The Taliban have officially denied the reports.

The group seized control of Afghanistan last month, and have since declared the country an “Islamic Emirate”. Their new interim cabinet is entirely male and made up of senior Taliban figures, some of whom are notorious for attacks on US forces over the past two decades.

The dispute came to light after a Taliban co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, disappeared from view for several days.
One Taliban source told BBC Pashto that Mr Baradar and Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani – the minister for refugees and a prominent figure within the militant Haqqani network – had exchanged strong words, as their followers brawled with each other nearby.

A senior Taliban member based in Qatar and a person connected to those involved also confirmed that an argument had taken place late last week.

The sources said the argument had broken out because Mr Baradar, the new deputy prime minister, was unhappy about the structure of their interim government.

The row also reportedly stemmed from divisions over who in the Taliban should take credit for their victory in Afghanistan.

Mr Baradar reportedly believes that the emphasis should be placed on diplomacy carried out by people like him, while members of the Haqqani group – which is run by one of the most senior Taliban figures – and their backers say it was achieved through fighting.

Mr Baradar was the first Taliban leader to communicate directly with a US president, having a telephone conversation with Donald Trump in 2020. Before that, he signed the Doha agreement on the withdrawal of US troops on behalf of the Taliban.

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