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Afghanistan Taliban announce death of ‘exemplary warrior’ Haqqani

FORMER Washington ally Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose Haqqani network later became a mainstay of the Taliban, has died in Afghanistan aged 71.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed called Mr Haqqani, once hailed as a freedom fighter by US president Ronald Reagan and who had been paralysed for a decade, a religious scholar and exemplary warrior.

He was among the Afghan mojahedin (holy warriors) the US armed and trained in the 1980s during the war to force a Soviet troop withdrawal and overthrow the modernising secular government of Najibullah Ahmadzai.

Mr Haqqani joined the Taliban when they overran Kabul in September 1996, expelling feuding mojahedin groups, whose battles in the wake of the Najibullah government’s defeat had left the capital in ruins.

Since then, the network has been among the fiercest foes fighting US and Nato troops in Afghanistan.

Declassified US cables once called Mr Haqqani a “moderate socialist” who did not embrace strict Taliban rules denying girls education.

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