KABUL, May 17 (Xinhua) — Cracks further appeared within Taliban rank as infighting between supporters of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor and his opponents headed by Mullah Mohammad Rasoul have killed 15 fighters from both sides in the western region of Afghanistan since Sunday, officials said Tuesday.
In the latest fighting between the two groups in Obe district of Herat province with Herat city as its capital 640 km west of national capital Kabul city, at least five militants have been killed on Tuesday, a local official confirmed.
“The clash erupted between Mullah Sia Khan, a Taliban commander loyal to Mullah Akhtar Mansoor and his rival commander Mullah Toofan of Mullah Mohammad Rasoul’s faction in Niak village of Obe district in the wee hours of Tuesday which lasted for hours and leaving five insurgents dead,” district police Chief Shir Agha Alkozai told Xinhua.
All those killed in the fighting belonged to Akhtar Mansoor’s faction, the official added.
Taliban militants haven’t commented on the subject.
This is the second bloody fighting between the two rival factions in the western region over the past three days.
On Sunday, seven militants were killed from both sides as clash flared up in Balamurghab district of the western Badghis province, according to Balamurghab district governor, Ahmad Zia Akazai.
Militants loyal to Mullah Rasoul also publicly executed three fighters from Mansoor group in Balamurghab district on Monday after capturing them, Akazai asserted.
More than 200 fighters from both factions have been killed due to infighting in parts of Afghanistan over the past several months, some 100 of them only in Shindand district of Herat province over the past couple of months, according to local media reports.
Since confirmation of the death of Taliban former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in August last year, Omar’s deputy Mullah Akhtar Mansoor succeeded him. However, his rival Mullah Mohammad Rasoul challanged Mansoor’s leadership over Taliban outfit and since then fighting occasionally erupts between the two groups in parts of the country.
Militants loyal to Mullah Rasoul, according to local officials and media reports, gathered in Jawand and Qadis districts of the western Badghis province couple of days ago and announced Jihad, or holy war against Mansoor’s supporters.
Meantime, local political analysts believe that continued internal differences and infighting between Mullah Mansoor’s supporters and his opponents would weaken Taliban positions and eventually enables government forces to shrink militants’ foothold in the conflict-hit country.