Taliban’s Qatar chief quits as leadership rift deepens

Updated 04 August 2015
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Taliban’s Qatar chief quits as leadership rift deepens

KABUL: The head of the Taliban’s Qatar-based political office has stepped down, a statement said, a high-profile resignation within leadership ranks highlighting growing discord over the movement’s recent power transition.
Mullah Akhtar Mansour was announced as the new Taliban chief on Friday after the insurgents confirmed the death of Mullah Omar, who led the militant movement for some 20 years.
But splits immediately emerged between Mansour and rivals challenging his appointment, exposing the Taliban’s biggest leadership crisis in recent years and one that raises the risk of a factional split.
Underscoring the deepening internal divisions, Tayeb Agha stepped down on Monday as head of the Taliban’s political office, set up in Qatar in 2013 to facilitate peace talks.
“In order to live with a clear conscience and abide by the principles of Mullah Omar, I decided that my work as head of the political office has ended,” Agha said in the statement published on a website regularly used by the Doha office and confirmed by a Taliban source.
“I will not be involved in any kind of (Taliban) statements... and will not support any side in the current internal disputes within the Taliban.”
Agha added that consensus should have been sought from insurgent strongholds inside Afghanistan over the new leader’s appointment.
The Taliban source said Mansour’s aides were trying to convince Agha to withdraw his resignation but his statement adds to a growing chorus of dissent in the movement over the increasingly bitter political transition.
“The death of Mullah Omar was kept secret for two years,” Agha said. “I consider this a historical mistake.”
The Taliban have not given details of when and where Omar died but the Afghan government said it happened in Karachi in April 2013.


13 under arrest for Sri Lanka blasts: police

Sri Lankan security personnel keep watch outside the church premises following a blast at the St. Anthony's Shrine in Kochchikade in Colombo on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2019
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13 under arrest for Sri Lanka blasts: police

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have arrested 13 men in connection with bomb blasts on churches and hotels that killed more than 200 people, officials said Monday.
Authorities have not made public details on those held after Sunday’s attacks. But a police source told AFP the 13 were detained at two locations in and around Colombo.
The source said the 13 men are from the same radical group.
At least two of the eight attacks were carried out by suicide bombers, according to police and other sources, and three police were killed when another suicide bomber detonated explosives during a raid on a house where suspects were.