Mullah Omar dead, says Afghanistan; Taliban denies

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Kabul: Reclusive, one-eyed Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead, an Afghan official said. The Taliban promptly denied it. 5585669352_4912a93721_o

An Afghan official on the condition of anonymity confirmed to Xinhua on Wednesday about Mullah Omar’s death. However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the report as baseless, saying Mullah is “alive”.

He died two to three years ago, BBC quoted Afghan government and intelligence sources as saying.

There have been several reports of Mullah Omar’s death in the past. The US had announced a $10 million award for the rebel’s capture or death.

Mullah Omar, who was Afghanistan’s de facto head of state when the Taliban was in power from 1996 to 2001, had earlier disappeared from Pakistan’s Quetta city.

Mullah Omar’s Taliban regime in Afghanistan had sheltered Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in the years prior to the September 11 attack on the US.

That prompted the US to declare war on the Taliban and overthrow its regime with the help of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

Taliban fighters then fled to Pakistan in large numbers to regroup.

Mullah Omar was earlier widely said to be living in hiding in Quetta, a Pakistani city close to the Afghan border.