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    Taliban confirm Mullah Akhund’s death

    KABUL (PAN): The Taliban on Monday confirmed their former defence minister, Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, Mullah Mohammad Omar’s key lieutenant, died of a heart attack in a Pakistani prison.

    A statement from the insurgent movement said: “Sadly, we have been informed that the Taliban’s deputy leader passed away in a Pakistani jail.” Akhund was detained in southeastern Balochistan province in January 2007.

    The ex-minister’s family had been informed about his death due to a heart disease in a jail in the port city of Karachi on March 5, 2010, the Taliban statement said.

    “His family has received the proof about his death, but it is still unclear whether Mullah Obaidullah Akhund died of a disease or as a result of torture,” the statement added.

    Saddened by the death, the militants offered condolences to their deputy leader’s relatives and the entire Islamic world, the statement added. The Taliban asked the Pakistani government to provide details of his arrest, incarceration and death.

    The statement criticised the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) for not sharing information with them about the condition of Taliban inmates being held in Pakistanis jails.

    Mullah Akhund, son of Mullah Yar Mohammad Akhund, was born in 1969 in the Alokozai village of the Zalgham area in the Zherai district of southern Kandahar province.

    He joined the jihad against the Russians under the command of Mullah Sadiq and later became a commander.  He was an active member of the Taliban at the beginning of the movement.

    He served as commander of the Kandahar corps during the Taliban regime. After the capture of Kabul, he was appointed as defence minister. Later he was appointed as Mullah Omar’s deputy.