May 15, 2007 / 6:12 AM / 11 years ago

Taliban replaces slain top commander with brother

SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Mullah Dadullah, the feared Taliban commander killed at the weekend in battle with U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, has been replaced by his younger brother, a Taliban spokesman said.

An image received by Reuters through email shows an undated image Mullah Dadullah, the feared Taliban commander killed at the weekend in battle with U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Handout

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar appointed Mullah Bakht Mohammad to take the place of the insurgents’ top operational commander in the south, Taliban spokesman Qari Mohammad Yousuf told Reuters.

The death of Dadullah, the main architect of suicide bombings, kidnappings of foreigners and Afghans, beheadings and a rise of violence in southern Afghanistan, was seen as the biggest blow to the Taliban since the start of the insurgency.

An ethnic Pashtun from the southern province of Uruzgan, Dadullah was a member of the Taliban’s 10-member leadership council and took charge of battlefield operations in the south of Afghanistan in 2004.

“The Taliban will continue jihad under the command of the New Taliban commander, Mullah Bakht Mohammad,” Qari said. “Our chief, Mullah Omar, asked the Afghan government to hand over Mullah Dadullah’s dead body to his family soon.”

Afghan authorities said on Monday they had buried Dadullah in an undisclosed location in the southern province of Kandahar but his relatives could rebury it if they wished.

Dadullah, who was called Afghanistan’s Al Zarqawi after the slain leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, lost a leg in a landmine blast during fighting in the 1990s. During the Taliban’s rule from 1996 to 2001 he gained a reputation as a ruthless commander who ordered revenge massacres.

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