Mullah Omar dead, says Afghanistan; Taliban denies

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The leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has died, BBC reported on Wednesday quoting Afghan officials. The militant group has denied the claims.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the report as baseless, saying Mullah is “alive”.The reclusive leader died two to three years ago, the Afghan government and intelligence sources said. No further details were released.There have been several reports of Mullah Omar’s death in the past.Afghanistan said on Wednesday it was investigating reports that Mullah Omar, leader of the militant Taliban movement behind an escalating insurgency, was dead.The elusive Omar has not been seen in public since fleeing when the Taliban was toppled from power by a US-led coalition in 2001, and there has been speculation for years among militant circles that he was either incapacitated or had died.Early this month, the Taliban had issued Omar’s message on the eve of Eid in which he had hailed as “legitimate” the July 7 peace talks between his group and the Afghan government aimed at ending 13-year war in Afghanistan.The Taliban leader is hiding following the ouster of his government in 2001. It was Omar’s backing for al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks that sparked the US-led campaign in Afghanistan.He has a $10 million bounty on his head.Taliban leaders and fighters have not heard from their chief since 2007.Afghan Taliban this year published a surprise 5,000-word biography of Omar to mark his 19th year as the group’s chief.The biography says he was born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in the Khakrez district of Kandahar province.It lists Omar’s military feats fighting the Russians between 1983 and 1991, saying he was wounded four times and lost his right eye.In 1994, he took over leading the militants to tackle the “factional fighting” among warlords that followed the collapse of the communist regime in 1992.In 1996, Omar was conferred the title “ameer-ul-momineen” (head of the pious believers), becoming Taliban’s supreme leader. — Agencies

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