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The BBC's Kate Clark
"Mullah Rabbani was a prominent commander and attracted many fighters to the movement"
 real 56k

Monday, 16 April, 2001, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK
Senior Taleban leader dies
Rabbani in Pakistan
Rabbani (left) was the deputy leader of the Taleban
A powerful leader of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement, Mullah Mohammad Rabbani, has died of liver cancer.

Senior Taleban officials said that Mr Rabbani died in a Pakistan hospital early on Monday morning.

Mr Rabbani, 45, was the second most powerful Taleban leader after the supreme commander, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and head of the governing council of ministers.

Making an humanitarian exception to the air embargo, the United Nations flew his body to the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Commander

Among the Taleban rank and file Mullah Rabbani was known simply as Haji Mowin Sahib, or The Deputy.

Taleban fighters
Rabbani led the Taleban into Kandahar in 1994
An important military commander during the decade-long war against Soviet occupation in the eighties he attracted many fighters to the Taleban cause.

He was among the original band of Taleban fighters who captured Kandahar in 1994 and then swept into the capital, Kabul, two years later.

Mr Rabbani had been seriously ill for several months and travelled to Pakistan frequently for treatment.

Differences

A strong supporter of the hardline Islamic rule which the Taleban have put in place in Afghanistan, there have been reports of differences between him and Mullah Omar.

Mullah Rabbani was believed to have ordered the execution of former Afghan President Najibullah, after the Taleban takeover.

Mr Najibullah, who had been living in the United Nations compound in Kabul since 1992, was dragged out and publicly hanged.

Mr Rabbani is to be buried in Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taleban regime.

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See also:

20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
01 Mar 01 | South Asia
Timeline: Afghanistan
01 Mar 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Afghanistan
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