Tal­iban lead­ers could be in the coun­try

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - NATION+WORLD -

Af­ter op­er­at­ing out of Pak­istan for more than a decade, the lead­ers of Afghanistan’s Tal­iban move­ment may have moved back to their home­land to try to build on this year’s gains in the war and to es­tab­lish a per­ma­nent pres­ence.

If con­firmed, the move would be a sign of the Tal­iban’s con­fi­dence in their fight against the U.S.backed gov­ern­ment in Kabul. It could also be an at­tempt by the mil­i­tants to dis­tance them­selves from Pak­istan, which is ac­cused of sup­port­ing the move­ment. The Tal­iban’s lead­ers have been based in Pak­istani cities, in­clud­ing Quetta, Karachi and Pe­shawar, since their rule in Afghanistan was over­thrown in the 2001 U.S. in­va­sion af­ter the 9/11 at­tacks.

Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid said the lead­er­ship shura, or coun­cil, re­lo­cated to Afghanistan “some months ago,” al­though he would not say to where. One Tal­iban of­fi­cial said the shura had moved to south­ern Hel­mand prov­ince.

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