The Afghan Taliban’s newly appointed leader earlier today pledged that there would be no return to peace talks with the government, in an audio recording provided by the group just days after a US drone killed his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, in Pakistan.
“No, no we will not come to any type of peace talks,” the man, identified as Haibatullah Akhundzada, said in the recording provided by the Taliban’s official spokesperson.
Reuters could not independently verify the voice was that of Akhundzada or when it was recorded.
Who is Haibatullah Akhundzada?
Akhunzada was a senior judge during the insurgent group’s five-year rule over Afghanistan and issued many of its harsh verdicts.
Believed to be aged in his fifties, he hails from Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar like both his former boss — Mansour.
Akhundzada went on to become the group’s “chief justice” after a US-led invasion toppled the Taliban government in 2001. He was a close ally of Mansour and was one of his two deputies.