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Afghan government probes reports of Mullah Omar death

BBC / AFP | Afghan intelligence sources believe the Taliban's Mullah Omar has been dead for over two years.

Afghan authorities are investigating reports of Taliban leader Mullah Omar's death, a presidential spokesman said Wednesday, amid frenzied speculation about the reclusive warrior-cleric's long-rumoured demise.

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The announcement from spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi came shortly after two government sources requesting anonymity told FRANCE 24's correspondent in Kabul, Moheballah Charif, that Mullah Omar was indeed dead.

There have been several reports of Omar's death in the past. Unnamed intelligence sources say they believe he died two to three years ago.

The Afghan Taliban have not commented on the report, but a spokesman contacted by the BBC said the group would issue a statement shortly.

Earlier this year, they published a biography of their "charismatic" leader, in a surprise move apparently aimed at countering the creeping influence of the Islamic State (IS) group within insurgent ranks.

Under Omar's leadership, the Taliban capitalised on the chaos that followed the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan to seize power in the 1990s.

Omar was a key ally of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who like him went into hiding after the 2001 US-led invasion that routed the Taliban regime.

The Taliban leader has not been seen in public since 2001.

 

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