Deadly Taliban inter-fighting erupts in Afghanistan

2015-11-09 11:06

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Violent clashes between two rival Taliban groups in southern Afghanistan killed at least 50 fighters from both sides, a police chief told Al Jazeera.

On Sunday, Mirwais Noorzai said fighters led by the newly appointed leader Mullah Mohammad Rasool clashed with those loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor in Zabul province.

"Civilians have left the area due to heavy clashes between the two groups," he said.

"The fight took place in the Arghandab district of Zabul province. Most of the area is under the Taliban control. We've been asking for military assistance for very long now."

Anwar Ishaqzai, governor of southern Zabul province, said the Taliban splinter group, known as the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate has joined up with fighters from ISIS.

"The Taliban faction under Mullah Rasool was backed by the ISIS and Uzbek fighters in the fight," he said.

"About 40 Taliban from Rasool’s group and 10 from Mansoor have been killed in the fight."

ISIL claim denied

However, Abdul Manan Niazi, spokesperson for the breakaway faction denied the ISIS association.

"We will never join them. Their ideologies are different, they come from a different background and a different history," he told Al Jazeera.

"These are all false accusations. We can never ask for their support to fight our enemies or re-establish the Islamic rule."

ISIS, which controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, started building a presence in Zabul earlier this year.

Mullah Mansoor's followers initiated the fight, Niazi accused.

"Since the announcement of our new leader, we've been highlighting that we are not in the favour of fighting with each other,” he said. "This fight was initiated by them." 

'Our jihad'

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Taliban commander led by Mullah Mansoor in Zabul province told Al Jazeera that his side would continue to fight those against their "supreme" leader.

"Anyone who does not acknowledge Mullah Mansoor is our enemy," he said.

"The faction group is formed by foreigners and our enemies, this won't stop us. Nothing can stop us from continuing our jihad."

The split into two groups followed the appointment of the main new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

The Taliban Supreme Council, or Shura Council, said it had not been consulted and late last week, the breakaway group elected its own leader, Mullah Mohammed Rasool Akhund.

The rift has raised speculation over the group's unity and future. 

Peace talks

Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were postponed after the announcement of Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death earlier this year.

However, according to Tolonews, an Afghan news channel, Niazi said on Sunday that the group is ready for peace talks if foreign forces leave Afghanistan.

Last month, US President Barack Obama announced to extend the US military role in the country, and keep the current force of 9 800 troops through most of 2016 amid a surge in Taliban attacks.

Under the new plan the number of US troops would fall to 5 500, starting in 2017.

Read more on:    taliban  |  isis  |  afghanistan  |  security

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