KABUL: (APS)The Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Omar but did not say when or where he died. The statement says “his [Mullah Omar’s] health condition deteriorated in the last two weeks” and “not for a single day did he go to Pakistan”.
The statement went on to say that three days of religious ceremonies would be held “to pray for the soul of Mullah Omar”.
The militants said Omar died of “sickness”, citing family members, contradicting the Afghan government’s stance that the one-eyed warrior-cleric had passed away in the Pakistani city Karachi. Afghanistan’s premier intelligence agency had also claimed Omar died in a Karachi hospital in April 2013.
Omar’s death marks a significant blow to the Taliban, which is riven by internal divisions and threatened by the rise of the self-styled Islamic State group, the Middle East jihadist outfit that is making steady inroads in Afghanistan.
“The leadership of the Islamic Emirate and the family of Mullah Omar… announce that leader Mullah Omar died due to a sickness,” a Taliban statement said, using the movement’s official name.
The Taliban, who were faced with the tricky process of choosing a successor to the near-mythical figure who led them for some 20 years, appointed Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as their new supreme leader earlier today.