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Taliban deny knowledge that assassinated al-Qaida chief was in Kabul

AFGHANISTAN’S ruling Taliban said today it had not been aware that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, who was killed in a US drone strike on Sunday, had been in Kabul.

The group’s political office chief in Doha, Qatar, Suhail Shaheen said an investigation into the incident was now underway.

The Taliban’s claim contradicts US accusations that Mr Zawahri was staying at the home of an aide of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the deputy leader of the Taliban and now Afghanistan’s interior minister.

An agreement not to harbour al-Qaida operatives or members of other terrorist groups that target the US was struck between the Taliban and the US in 2020 and formed part of the deal by which Washington pulled out its occupying armies last August.

Mr Zawahri was killed in Shirpur, a district locally known as “Churpur” — a play on the word “stolen” in the Dari language — because its historic buildings were demolished following the 2003 US-led invasion and luxury homes built there to house members of the US-backed elite following eviction of the former residents.

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