The leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, has died, a report on the BBC website quoted unnamed Afghan government sources as saying on Wednesday.
The report said that the reclusive one-eyed leader of the militant organisation had died two to three years ago. However, this information could not be independently verified. The Afghan Taliban have also declined to comment and said that a statement in this regard would be issued shortly.
An Afghan government official said that an emergency press conference had been called on the subject of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, amid rumours of his death. The official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to give statements to the press, did not provide further details.
The development comes amid the recently started peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Murree which were said to be endorsed by Mullah Omar. The peace talks hosted by Pakistan were also attended by officials from China and the US.
Also, Daesh or the self-styled Islamic State (IS) had in the past few months increased its footprint in Afghanistan establishing itself in previously Taliban-controlled areas. Daesh and Taliban are locked in fight also for control of some other regions.
There had been several earlier claims regarding Mullah Omar’s death, which had been rejected by the Afghan Taliban. The whereabouts of Omar remained a mystery but he was believed to be leading the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan from hiding.
Born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in Kandahar province, Mullah Omar received his early education from a seminary, according to Taliban sources.
He also fought against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan in 1980s during which he suffered a shrapnel injury to his right eye.
Mullah Omar was Afghanistan’s de facto head of state during their 1996-2001 rule over Afghanistan.The heavily bearded, one-eyed Omar has not been seen in public since the Taliban government in Afghanistan was toppled by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
The Taliban were toppled for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the United States. Mullah Omar had forged close ties to al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden
The US State Department had offered a $10 million bounty on his head and described him as a tall male with a shrapnel wound to the right eye.
Mullah Omar, along with several other Taliban leaders, was said to have fled to Quetta where they formed the “Quetta shura”. A shura is a leadership council. other reports had also claimed that Mullah Omar had fled to Pakistan’s Karachi city.
Later the United States had said it will not target Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders unless they posed a direct threat to the US, following the withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan in January this year.