Afghan intelligence: Taliban leader Mullah Omar dead

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Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Supposedly Killed

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's main intelligence agency said Wednesday that the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been dead for more than two years.

The one-eyed, secretive head of the Taliban and an al-Qaida ally led a bloody insurgency against U.S.-led forces after they toppled him from his rule in Afghanistan in 2001. He has not been seen in public since fleeing the invasion over the border into Pakistan.

Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security, said 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.

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Afghan intelligence: Taliban leader Mullah Omar dead
395454 01: (UNDATED PHOTO) Mullah Omar, chief of the Taliban, is shown in this headshot photo. Military forces from the United States and Britain have begun attacking targets October 7, 2001 in Afghanistan. (Photo by Getty Images)
FILE - In this undated image released by the FBI, Mullah Omar is seen in a wanted poster. An Afghan official says his government is examining claims that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. The Taliban could not be immediately reached for comment on the government’s claims about Omar, who has been declared dead many times before. (FBI via AP, File)
Zafar Hashemi, a deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. An Afghan official said Wednesday his government is examining claims that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. The Taliban could not be immediately reached on the government's comments about Omar, who has been declared dead many times before. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
FILE - In this undated image released by the FBI, Mullah Omar is seen in a wanted poster. An Afghan official says his government is examining claims that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. The Taliban could not be immediately reached for comment on the government’s comments about Omar, who has been declared dead many times before. (FBI via AP, File)
A billboard with the photos of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden (L), Adam Gadhan, an American born radical in charge of Al-Qaeda propaganda (C) and Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, calls for information regarding the three leaders as it is pictured in a park in Kabul on March 4, 2009. The United States advertised rewards in a top Afghan daily for information leading to the capture of Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. The advertisement placed by the US embassy in Afghanistan, features mugshots of the wanted men and said anyone giving details to a special email address or phone hotline would remain anonymous. AFP PHOTO/SHAH Marai (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
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It was not immediately clear why his death was only being announced now. The confirmation comes two days before the Afghan government and the Taliban are to hold their second round of official peace talks in Pakistan. The Taliban could not be immediately reached for comment.

"He was very sick in a Karachi hospital and died suspiciously there," Seddiqi said, without elaborating.

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 on Friday 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 Ghani's government.

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

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Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

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