Afghanistan confirms Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, died in 2013

Afghanistan confirms Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, died in 2013

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KABUL, (Afghanistan) — After months of deliberation, Afghan officials announced on Wednesday that they were now certain that the Taliban’s longtime leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, died in Pakistan in 2013.

The announcement came two days before negotiators claiming to represent the Taliban leadership are scheduled to sit down and talk peace with the Afghan government in a second face-to-face session.

“I can confirm that Mullah Omar is dead,” the spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security Abdul Hassib Sediqi told NBC News. “According to our intelligence Mullah Omar has died in a hospital in Pakistan a couple years ago.”

The US State Department’s spokesperson, John Kirby, said the US cannot confirm Omar’s death.

Rumours of Omar’s ill-health and even death have regularly surfaced in the past, but the latest claims – just two days before fresh peace talks with the armed group – mark the first such confirmation from the Afghan government.

The Taliban has yet to confirm or deny the claims, which follow a week of speculation about the fate of the insurgent leader.

Rumors had swirled for years that the one-eyed leader of the militant group that ruled Afghanistan until being toppled by U.S.-backed forces 2001 had passed away. The State Department offering a $10-million reward for information leading to him, saying Omar “represents a continuing threat to America and her allies.”

A descriptive biography describes Mullah Omar as being actively involved in “jihadi activities”.

Omar was born around 1960 in rural southern Afghanistan. He reportedly rose to power as a commander who fought the Russian occupation around the city of Kandahar.

In the past 13 years, Omar has stayed completely out of the public eye amid growing power struggles within the Taliban and fears of ISIS’ influence in their ranks as an ideological rival.

Rumours of Omar’s ill-health and even death have regularly surfaced in the past, but the latest claims – just two days before fresh peace talks with the armed group – mark the first such confirmation from the Afghan government.

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