Some Pakistani media reported the death of Jalaluddin Haqqani, said to be in his 70s, yesterday when his son Sirajuddin was announced as one of the deputy chiefs of the Taliban following the death of its longtime leader Mullah Omar.

"Some media outlets spread reports... about the death of a distinguished jihadi personality... Jalaluddin Haqqani," the Taliban stated in a statement posted on their website.

"This claim has no basis. Haqqani... was ill before but he has been blessed with good health for a prolonged period now and has no troubles currently," the statement added.

Haqqani's family also rejected rumours of his death, according to an Afghan Taliban commander who spoke to reporters from an undisclosed location in northwestern Pakistan. "I talked to his grandson (who is somewhere in eastern Afghanistan) and he completely rejected rumours of his death," the commander said.

The Afghan Taliban named Mullah Akhtar Mansour as their new chief yesterday, a historic power transition that raises hopes a more moderate leadership will pave the way for peace talks despite divisions within insurgent ranks.

The Taliban also announced his deputies – Sirajuddin, who has a USD 10 million US bounty on his head, and Haibatullah Akhundzada, former head of the Taliban courts. Formed 30 years ago to counter the Soviet invasion in the 80s, the Haqqani network is militarily the most capable and most dangerous of the Taliban factions.

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