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Afghanistan Claims Taliban's 'Shadow Governor' In Helmand Killed

Members of the Afghan security forces take position during an operation against Taliban fighters in Marjah district of Helmand province on May 20.

Afghan authorities say security forces have killed a senior Taliban commander they identified as the "shadow governor" of the southern province of Helmand.

The Taliban denied the report, which came days after Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur was killed by a U.S. air strike in southwestern Pakistan.

Omar Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor of Helmand, said Mullah Muzamel died of injuries sustained during an air strike in Marjah district late on May 22.

"First he was wounded and later that night he died of his wounds," Zwak said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said in a tweet that Muzamel had been killed in a special forces operation along with two of his commanders, Qari Feda Mohammad and Mulawi Hamid.

However, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman for southern Afghanistan, denied the report.

Ahmadi said the shadow governor for Helmand is Haji Mullah Abdul Manan Akhund and that person is safe.

"No official has been killed or wounded in Helmand," he said.

Helmand, the region that grows most of Afghanistan's opium crop, is mostly under Taliban control but government forces have launched an offensive to retake lost ground.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa