(Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
An official from Afghanistan’s National Security Council told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan Wednesday that the government has confirmed Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead since 2013.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not provide further details.
But a report by Afghan Channel One TV quoted government sources as saying news of Mullah Omar’s death was provided to the Afghan government by Pakistan and that the Taliban leader had been killed.
The BBC’s correspondent in Kabul reports that sources in the Afghan president’s office, as well as Afghan intelligence officials, have confirmed that Mullah Omar has been dead — probably for two or three years.
There have been many reports in the past about Mullah Omar’s death, but July 29 marks the first time Afghan officials have confirmed the reports.
The Taliban’s official spokesmen have repeatedly denied reports of Mullah Omar’s death.
But Fidai Mahaz, a splinter group of the Taliban that does not support peace talks with the Afghan government, announced last week earlier that Mullah Omar was dead and had been replaced by Taliban deputy leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansur.
Confirmation of Mullah Omar’s death by authorities in Kabul comes at a critical time, with a second round of peace talks between Taliban representatives and Afghan government negotiators scheduled in Pakistan on July 31.
On July 15, an official Taliban website issued a statement in Mullah Omar’s name which backed the legitimacy of those peace talks — reversing the Taliban’s traditional position that there could be no meaningful peace talks until all foreign military forces have left Afghan soil.