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Former Afghan mujahidin leader dead

india Updated: Jul 25, 2006 13:30 IST

Yunus Khalis, a major guerrilla leader during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan has died after protracted illness, his son said in a statement published Tuesday. He was 87.

Khalis, who led the Hezbi-i-Islami faction, died on July 19, his son Anwar ul-Haq Mujahid said in a signed statement sent to local newspapers in Pakistan near the Afghan border.

Khalis had remained underground since announcing a jihad or holy war against US-led forces in Afghanistan some three years ago.

The statement did not say where he died or mention the place of his burial.

Born in 1919 in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, Khalis played an important role in Afghanistan's anti-communist war.

He was one of the seven main mujahidin leaders who waged a bloody resistance movement against the Red Army's 1979-1989 invasion.

After the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan was plunged into a civil war but Khalis, a Pashtun language poet, did not participate in the factional fighting.

But in October 2003 he announced a jihad against foreign troops in Afghanistan and went into hiding.

His son, who also remains underground, said he had taken over the party's leadership and vowed to continue the jihad against foreign forces in Afghanistan.