Afghanistan's deposed president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, says the capture and execution of a leading Afghan opposition figure is a "tragic event" for his country.
Mr. Rabbani told the U-S television network C-N-N that the killing of former (mujahadeen) commander Abdul Haq shows the cruelty of Afghanistan's ruling Taleban.
The Taleban announced Friday that commander Haq -- a hero in the resistance against Soviet occupation in the 1980s -- was captured Thursday south of the capital, Kabul, and shot as a spy for the United States. It said two men with Mr. Haq were also killed.
The U-S State Department denied Mr. Haq was working with the United States, but a spokesman (Richard Boucher) said his execution would be very "regrettable" and a substantial loss for those who support a broad-based government in Afghanistan.
Mr. Haq slipped into the country several days ago, apparently trying to rally support of Afghan tribal leaders against the Taleban, and work on a plan for a future government under exiled King Mohammad Zaher Shah.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Islamic Press reports today (Saturday) that the Taleban says it executed five opposition commanders after capturing them Friday in a battle in northern Afghanistan (in Samangan province). There has been no independent confirmation of the killings.
The Taleban said that at the time of Mr. Haq's capture, he was carrying a large amount of U-S dollars, several satellite phones and documents. It also said U-S helicopters tried to rescue Mr. Haq as he tried fleeing Taleban fighters, but U-S officials say they are not aware of any such rescue operation.