Taliban Announce Death Of Ex-defense Minister

Published February 13, 2012 9:36AM (EST)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban's former defense minister died in a Pakistani jail in 2010, a spokesman for the insurgent group said Monday.

Little had been heard of Obaidullah Akhund since he was arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2007.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Monday that relatives have just recently been informed that Obaidullah died of heart disease in a Karachi prison on March 5, 2010.

Obaidullah was one of the top deputies of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar when the Islamist regime ruled Afghanistan in the 1990s. He was arrested in early 2007 in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta. At the time, he was the highest-ranking Taliban figure to be captured since the fall of the hardline regime in 2001.

The Taliban said they want Pakistani officials to provide details about his arrest, incarceration and death.

Obaidullah's name was among those floated earlier this year as possible representatives for potential peace talks with the insurgent group.

(This version CORRECTS that the former Taliban minister died almost two years ago, not last year.)

By Salon Staff

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