The BBC quoting Afghan government and intelligence sources claimed Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died two to three years ago.

“The government … based on credible information, confirms that Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban died in April 2013 in Pakistan,” the Afghan presidential palace said in a statement.

A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Sayed Zafar Hashemi, had earlier told reporters,“We are aware of the reports of the passing of Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader. We are still in the process of verifying those reports, and as soon as we get any more accurate information or identification … we will let the media and the people of Afghanistan know about it.”

Mullah Omar is alive; Taliban

The Afghan Taliban and sources close to the insurgent group’s mediators, who are holding talks with the Afghan government in Pakistan, however, insisted the Taliban chief is alive, according to a report on the Voice of America website.

Mullah Omar “is very much alive” and the rumours of his death are aimed at drawing out the reclusive leader, a Taliban spokesman was quoted by the VOA as saying.

The reclusive leader of the Afghan Taliban movement, Mullah Omar led the militant group to victory over competing Afghan militias in the 1990’s after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.

The Taliban leader has been in hiding since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

The US-led invasion was prompted by the Taliban’s alliance with Al-Qaeda in following the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings in New York.

The Taliban have released several messages over the years said to be from the Taliban supremo.

The US State Department had placed a 10 million-dollar bounty on Omar’s head.

News of Omar’s death comes as the Afghan government and Taliban leadership prepare for a second round of peace talks aimed at ending 13 years of war in the country.

Although the venue remains unconfirmed, officials say the negotiations for a ceasefire are likely to be held in China.

On July 7, The Afghan government conducted its first face-to-face talks with Taliban cadres supervised by American and Chinese representatives in the Pakistani hill station of Murree.


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