Taliban demands proof of bin Laden killing

A Kenyan reads a newspaper with front page headlines reporting the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan today.

The Taliban have cast suspicion on the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death, saying they would not believe the al-Qaida leader was dead until they had seen proof or received confirmation from sources close to him.

Though US officials have said they confirmed bin Laden’s identity both with face-mapping software and DNA tests, the lack of photos of the body and its burial at sea have raised doubts in Afghanistan and Pakistan that the man who evaded American detection for so long has actually been killed.

“This news is only coming from one side, from Obama’s office, and American has not shown any evidence or proof to support this claim,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed to journalists. “On the other side, our sources close to Osama bin Laden have not confirmed or denied the news.”

“Until there is news from sources close to Osama bin Laden it will be too early to provide any reaction,” the statement said.

Afghans have reacted with emotions ranging from joy to fear that the head of al-Qaida has finally been eliminated. Some have voiced hope that this will make it easier to bring the al-Qaida-allied Taliban to the negotiating table. Others have worried that it may mean the US will leave Afghanistan before the fight against the insurgency is over.

Yesterday Afghanistan’s president pointed out that the successful strike on bin Laden in Pakistan shows that he was right all along to urge Americans to focus more of their military might in the neighbouring country.

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