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The denials follow days of rumours that supporters of Baradar had clashed with those of Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of the Haqqani network that is based near the border with Pakistan and was blamed for some of the worst suicide attacks of the war.

The rumours follow speculation over possible rivalries between military commanders like Haqqani and leaders from the political office in Doha like Baradar, who led diplomatic efforts to reach a settlement with the United States.

The Taliban have repeatedly denied the speculation over internal divisions.

Baradar, once seen as the likely head of a Taliban government, had not been seen in public for some time and was not part of the ministerial delegation which met Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani in Kabul on Sunday.

The movement's supreme leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, has also not been seen in public since the Taliban seized Kabul on 15 August, although he issued a public statement when the new government was formed last week.

Speculation over Taliban leaders has been fed by the circumstances surrounding the death of the movement's founder, Mullah Omar, which was only made public in 2015 two years after it happened, setting off bitter recriminations among the leadership.

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