The Afghan Taliban spokesman has said one of its founding members has been released from detention in Pakistan.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar served as second-in-command under Mullah Omar and co-ordinated the group’s military operations in southern Afghanistan.
He was arrested eight years ago in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
Correspondents say his release could be linked to US efforts to revive peace talks between the militants and the Afghan government.
“He wasn’t released because he was ill,” a Taliban source told the BBC.
“In fact Pakistan also wants him to play a role in peace talks. He is in good shape and is expected to play a role in the peace process.”
Taliban officials secretly met a senior US diplomat in Qatar, it emerged in July. The Islamist group’s power and reach have surged since foreign combat troops left Afghanistan in 2014.