Friends of Hamid Karzai say the aide to Afghanistan's ex-King Zahir Shah is safe after escaping Taleban troops Thursday night.
Mr. Karzai's brother (Ahmed Karzai) told reporters the two had spoken by telephone overnight and that his brother said he was fine. Meanwhile, Taleban authorities have refuted earlier reports that they planned to execute 25 of Mr. Karzai's followers who were captured Thursday. The Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press had quoted the Taleban as saying some of the captives would be taken to Kandahar and hanged, but there had been no independent confirmation of the report.
A French news agency report from (the capital) Kabul quotes Taleban spokesman Amir Khan Muttaqi as saying no decision has been made yet. Reuters (news agency) quotes Taleban officials in Kandahar as saying they have no knowledge of the matter.
Mr. Karzai, who was deputy foreign minister in Afghanistan's pre-Taleban government, was believed to be meeting with ethnic Pashtun leaders to build support for a rebellion against the Taleban. Former mujahedeen leader Abdul Haq was caught and executed by the Taleban last week after he secretly entered Afghanistan on a similar mission.