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Newspapers hang for sale at a stand carrying headlines about the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, in Kabul, Afghanistan. The leader of the Afghan Taliban vowed to continue his group's bloody, nearly 14-year insurgency in an audio message released Saturday, urging his fighters to remain unified. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)[/caption]
Afghan Taliban on Saturday released an audio message of their chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor amid claims by Afghan officials that he was killed in gunfight in Pakistan.
"I have recorded my message to let everyone know that I am alive," the chief said in a 16-minute long audio message.
He also clarified that the never had a fight with anyone and he has not been to Kuchlak area of Pakistan in years. Terming the "death news" as lie and propaganda, he asked his followers not to pay attention to any rumous in future.
The Taliban earlier rejected the claims and insisted that no incident of firing took place.
"The message of the chief of the Amir ul Momineen (commander of faithful), Mullah Akhtar has been received which will expose the ulterior motives of the enemy," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a brief message in Pashto and Dari languages sent to media.
Mujahid's remarks came after Sultan Faizy, a spokesman for the first vice president of Afghanistan said in a Twitter post on Friday that Mansoor died of wounds a day after he was injured in gunfight at a meeting of the Taliban commanders.
In Islamabad, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah has said authorities are not aware of the alleged firefight in Kuchlak area near Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.
"We have seen the media reports. We are not aware of this incident. However, we have noted that Taliban spokesperson has denied that any such firefight took place," Khalilullah told weekly briefing on Thursday.
(with inputs from IANS)