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Taliban leader died in 2013, Afghan officials say

Only known picture of Taliban leader Mullah Omar who died in 2013, it was announced yesterday
Staff Reporter

RECLUSIVE Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar died more than two years ago in Pakistan, Afghan officials said yesterday.

Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, said that Mullah Omar died in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Karachi in April 2013.

"We confirm officially that he is dead," he told The Associated Press.

The confirmation comes just days before the Afghan government and the Taliban are to hold their second round of official peace talks in Pakistan.

It was not immediately clear why his death was only being announced now.

"He was very sick in a Karachi hospital and died suspiciously there," Mr Seddiqi said.

Earlier, Zafar Hashemi, the deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said the government was investigating reports that the Taliban leader was dead.

Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban are due to meet tomorrow in Pakistan for official talks aimed at ending the war that is nearing its 14th year.

Confirmation of Mullah Omar's death could complicate the peace process as it removes a figurehead for the insurgents, who until now have appeared to act collectively but are believed to be split on whether to continue the war or negotiate with Mr Ghani's government.

Ending the war has been a main priority for Mr Ghani since he took office last year.

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