A Taliban spokesman on Thursday said that the group’s leadership was unaware of the presence of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri in Kabul and was investigating the US “claim” that he was killed in a US drone strike there.
According to US authorities, the strike was the worst blow to the extremists since Osama bin Laden was assassinated more than ten years ago. The US killed Zawahiri on Sunday with a missile fired from a drone while he was standing on a balcony at his hideout in Kabul.
Doha-based Taliban representative to the UN, Suhail Shaheen, told the media in a message that the government and the leadership was not aware of what was being claimed.
He said, â€œInvestigation is underway now to find out about the veracity of the claim and investigation reports will be made public.”
Zawahiri’s death in Kabul raises concerns about whether he had protection from the Taliban, who had given the US assurances that they would not harbour other extremist groups as part of a 2020 deal on the withdrawal of US-led forces.
Shaheen said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was committed to the agreement, signed in the Qatari capital, Doha.
According to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Taliban had â€œgrossly violatedâ€ the agreement by hosting and protecting Zawahiri.