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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 December 2006, 10:06 GMT
Taleban 'admit commander's death'
Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani
The US said Mullah Osmani was a top commander in the south
The Taleban are reported to have confirmed the death of a senior commander who the Americans said they had killed in Afghanistan last week.

Initially, the Taleban denied that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Osmani had died in an air strike in Helmand province.

But Reuters news agency reports an unnamed senior Taleban official as saying his leadership had not wanted to publicise the death.

The US says Osmani headed Taleban operations in southern Afghanistan.

'Bad impact'

"He has died. We got this information on the day of the strike but our leadership ordered us not to disclose it," Reuters reports the commander as telling one of its journalists by phone.

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"He was not only an experienced military commander but also good in making financial transactions for us... his death will have some bad impact on our movement for some time."

On Saturday, US officials said Osmani's vehicle had been hit in an air strike in Helmand province on 19 December.

A Taleban spokesman initially dismissed reports of his death.

The Afghan interior ministry called the killing "a big achievement".

An Islamist insurgency spearheaded by the resurgent Taleban militia is at its strongest in the southern Afghan provinces bordering Pakistan.

Osmani was reportedly close to the Taleban's fugitive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and to al-Qaeda chief, Osama Bin Laden.






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