On Sunday, the office of the governor of Helmand released a photo of Mawlawi Ghafoor, saying he was the Taliban's designated deputy governor of Helmand, and he had been captured.
But social media users responded that this was old news and pointed to previous Afghan news stories reporting on Ghafoor's arrest last year in April.
In response, Helmand's media office responded in that Ghafoor had recently been released by the Afghan government as part of the peace process and had been back operating in the field before being re-captured.
But further inquiry revealed that when his picture had been circulated last year--by the National Directorate of Security (NDS)--Ghafoor had been described as the Taliban's designated district governor for Musa Qala.
In a recorded clip from 2019, Mullah Ghafoor, said: “I am the district governor of Musa Qala for the Taliban. One gun and a walkie talkie was found in my house.”
This discrepancy between his role as a designated district governor and then a designated provincial deputy governor raised suspicions.
Adding further confusion, on Monday the Helmand governor’s media office said that a man named "Mubarak" who was the "the designated deputy governor of the Taliban for Helmand" was killed during fighting in Nahri Saraj on Sunday night.
However, the media office has not provided convincing evidence to back up this report.
“Last night, operations were conducted by Afghan forces, with the special forces, in different parts of Nahri Saraj and in other areas where a large number of militants were killed and wounded. Besides that, based on accurate information from the local residents, the deputy governor of the anti-government armed opposition named Mubarak was killed,” Helmand governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak said.
These dubious and confusing reports have caused many to question the credibility of the Helmand governor's office.
“The information that is shared with the media should be accurate and it is the right of the media to be updated on incidents so that the people are made aware about the actual situation,” said Nazar Mohammad Rodi, a civil society activist.
“Correct information should be shared with the media. Fake news should not be shared with them. It will affect their prestige,” said Abdulhaq Zwakman, a civil society activist.