Taliban deny issuing ‘no peace talks’ audio message of new chief

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban’s newly appointed leader on Wednesday vowed there would be no return to peace talks, in an audio recording provided by the group 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 Hibatullah Akhundzada, said in the recording provided by the Taliban’s official spokesman.

Reuters could not independently verify the voice was that of Akhundzada or when it was recorded.

Meanwhile, the official spokesman for the Afghan Taliban denied that an audio tape purporting to be from newly named leader Hibatullah Akhundzada rejecting peace talks was issued by the group.

Two Taliban commanders had provided the audio to reporters late on Wednesday, saying it was an official statement.

One of the commanders said he had received the recording directly from Zabihullah Mujahid, the official spokesman who earlier announced Akhundzada’s elevation.

Mujahid later issued an e-mail from his official account denying that the movement had issued an audio clip. Reached by telephone, Mujahid said the Taliban were launching an investigation to learn who was distributing the recording.