Reports: Taliban chief Mullah Omar is dead

 

Afghanistan’s government is investigating fresh claims that Taliban leader Mullah Omar has died, multiple news outlets are reporting.

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Sources told the BBC on Wednesday that the militant chief died two to three years ago. The BBC said that multiple Afghan administration and intelligence agency officials had claimed Omar is dead.

The Taliban has neither confirmed nor denied those reports, the news outlet added.

A spokesman for Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said that authorities were working to verify reports of Omar’s death.

“As soon as we get more authentication … we’re going to let the media and people of Afghanistan know about that,” said Sayed Zafar Hashemi, according to the BBC.

“We do believe the reports of his death are credible," White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters Wednesday afternoon, adding that the White House was not yet ready to confirm Omar’s death.

“We do believe the reports of his death are credible," White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters Wednesday afternoon, adding that the White House was not yet ready to confirm Omar’s death.Omar last issued a public statement in mid-July in support of peace talks between Ghani’s administration and the Taliban.

His message appeared as a text document on the Taliban’s website, the BBC said, sparking rumors he was incapacitated or dead.

Omar led the Taliban to victory in Afghanistan’s civil war following the Soviet Union’s departure there.

America invaded Afghanistan in 2001 amid reports that Omar allied with al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in the 9/11 attacks.

Omar has since been in hiding from U.S. forces, with a $10 million bounty on his head issued by the State Department.

Vice reported on Wednesday that Pakistani officials are also reporting that Omar is deceased.

They believe the Taliban head died of natural causes three years ago, it added.

The BBC said on Wednesday that reports of Omar’s death come as the Taliban competes with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for Afghanistan’s extremists.

Ghani has repeatedly said that the terrorist organization is angling for Taliban defectors on his country’s borders.

--This report was updated at 1:43 p.m.

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