Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's chief military commander, has been killed in southern Afghanistan, the government says, while the movement denies his death.
Afghan ministry of interior press office said on Sunday: "Dadullah and his brother have been killed during an operation in Helmand province."
The Nato and US-led military forces tackling the Taliban and their allies refused to comment and referred all queries to the Afghan government.
Television stations interrupted routine broadcasting to give breaking news of the killing.
Dadullah is the most important rebel commander to be killed since the Taliban was driven from government by a US-led coalition in late 2001, the Afghan intelligence department said.
Asadullah Khalid, the Kandahar provincial governor, said Dadullah was killed "in an operation carried out based on very accurate information."
He would not give out the date and exact place of the operation.
Sayed Ansari, the Intelligence agency spokesman, described him as the "biggest Taliban commander ever killed."
"He was the commander of commanders," he said.
But a Taliban spokesman rejected the government's claim. "This is nothing more than propaganda," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.
"They claim they will show the body of Mullah Dadullah to media, we are waiting to see that. We also promise to present to the media a fresh voice recording of Mullah Dadullah."
The one-legged fighter was known as the key military strategist in Taliban and was said to be close to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the fugitive Taliban supreme commander.
He has bragged to the media about having thousands of men at his command, including hundreds of suicide bombers, and was based in the south which sees the most anti-government violence.
Last Mod: 13 Mayıs 2007, 12:08