Mullah Omar dead: reports

Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is dead, according to reports citing Afghan officials.

Afghan government and intelligence sources told the BBC that Omar, who led the Taliban in Afghanistan, died two to three years ago.

No further details were released.

The militant group has not commented on the claim but a Taliban spokesperson told the BBC that they would issue a statement shortly.

Reports of the reclusive leader’s death have surfaced in the past.  Omar has not been seen publicly for more than a decade.

A spokesperson for Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday that a press conference had been called on the subject of the Taliban leader.

Taliban splinter group Mahaz Fidayee had recently claimed that Omar was killed two years ago in an insider attack, according to local station Afghanistan 1 TV news.

But a biography released by the Taliban in April claimed the supreme leader was alive and in good health.

During Eid, the Taliban posted a message claiming Omar endorsed peace talks as legitimate.

Afghan officials and Taliban representatives are expected to meet for second round of peace talks on Friday.

Omar supported al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, triggering the US-led campaign to quash the Taliban and prompting the United States to put a $10 million bounty on Omar’s head after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Omar and Bin Laden reportedly spoke daily by satellite telephone when the Taliban were in power and even met for fishing trips.

Omar was forced into hiding after the Taliban government was overthrown in 2001. He and most of his senior comrades managed to evade capture.

No Western journalist has ever met  Omar, who mainly communicated through his foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakkil.

His right eye was damaged by shrapnel when he fought with the mujahideen against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.

Under Omar’s rule, Afghanistan was subject to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

More to come

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