It's official now: Omar died in Pakistan 2 years ago
A statement from the Presidential Palace said: “The government of Afghanistan believes that the ground for the Afghan peace talks is more paved now than before, and thus calls on all armed opposition groups to seize the opportunity and join the peace process.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Syed Zafar Hashmi, the president’s deputy spokesman, told a crowded press conference here they had received information regarding the demise of Mullah Omar through media sources.
As and when confirmed, he promised, the government would share accurate information with media and the Afghan nation. He said they were still in the process of looking at the reports.
Later, a press statement from the Afghan Presidential Palace stated: "The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, based on credible information, confirms that Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban died in April 2013 in Pakistan."
Fidaee Mahaz, a Taliban splinter group, claimed the death of Mullah Omar in a statement last week. It stated the reclusive Taliban supremo had died two years back and buried in southern Zabul province.
The group, alleging sharp divisions within the movement, also accused some Taliban commanders including Mullah Mansoor of killing Mullah Omar Mujahid.
An unnamed source close to the one-eyed Taliban leader told a foreign TV channel Omar had passed away in 2012 due to tuberculosis. Only some senior members of the Quetta Shura were aware of Omar's demise, CBS reported.
An Afghan government official was quoted as saying that Pakistani authorities had recently confirmed the Taliban chief’s death due to natural causes.
Under his leadership, the Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when the hard-line regime was toppled as a result of a sustained US-led bombing blitz for sheltering Osama bin Ladenand refusing to hand him over.
Meanwhile, the Taliban rejected reports regarding their chief’s demise as groundless. A spokesman for the group told VOA Mullah Omar “is very much alive”.
Officials familiar with the nascent peace process also denied the reports, saying they were aimed at derailing the second round of negotiations to be held in Pakistan later this week.
In the past too, there have been reports about the death of Mullah Omar, carrying a $10 million US bounty on his head. However, they could not be verified.
On the eve of Eidul Fitr, he endorsed the first round of face-to-face peace parleys between Taliban and Afghan government representatives in Pakistan’s tourist resort of Murree.
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