Afghanistan's Taleban rulers say they have killed a former Afghan commander of the resistance, or mujahedeen, Abdul Haq.
The official Taleban Bakhtar news agency said Abdul Haq, a hero of the 1980s war against the former Soviet Union, was executed on charges of spying for the United states and Britain. The report could not be independently confirmed.
In Washington, a Defense Department spokesman said reports of the execution remain unconfirmed. He also denied any U-S involvement in an attempt to rescue Commander Haq.
Abdul Haq recently returned from exile in Dubai to join talks about a possible Post-Taleban government under ex-king Zahir Shah. He reportedly had gone to Nangarhar province in hopes of persuading Taleban troops to defect.
Accounts differ as to how Abdul Haq was killed. The Taleban news agency originally said he was killed in a shoot-out. Other reports said he was killed while attempting to escape after being captured. A Taleban official in the Nangarhar capital of Jalalabad was quoted as saying Commander Haq and four associates were captured in the Azra Hills area of neighboring Logar province. Reports said two of the men travelling with Abdul Haq were also executed.
The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic press quoted Taleban officials as saying Commander Haq was captured despite intense U-S helicopter gunfire to help him escape.
In Rome, the French News Agency quoted a spokesman for King Zahir Shah as saying Abdul Haq was on a mission to persuade tribal chiefs there to back a peace deal. The spokesman said all available information points to his having been executed.