Take a look at the beta version of dw.com. We're not done yet! Your opinion can help us make it better.
Afghanistan's intelligence agency has confirmed the death of Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Omar. The leader's demise could jeopardize peace talks.
The National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's spy agency, said that Omar had died two years ago. The news came shortly after officials at Kabul said on Wednesday that they were investigating claims of the leader's demise.
"We confirm officially that he is dead," Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, spokesman for the Afghan intelligence agency told reporters. He said Omar died in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2013.
"He was very sick in a Karachi hospital and died suspiciously there," Seddiqi added.
Who is Mullah Omar?
It wasn't clear why Kabul publicized the news two years later. Some officials questioned the motive of releasing the news of Mullah Omar's death so late.
"Especially in light of reports that he died two years ago, why is this news being released now? It raises questions about the intentions of people who don't want talks to go forward," a Pakistani official told the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Mullah Mohammed Omar was the chief of the Taliban during its rule in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. He was last seen in public around the time of the US invasion in 2001. He was a figurehead for the insurgent movement and is believed to have fled the border to Pakistan and settled in Quetta.
His death could further fuel divisions within the militant group and jeopardize peace talks with the government.
Divisions within the Taliban?
"We are at a crossroads and it will take some time to resolve this [leadership] issue," Reuters news agency quoted a senior Taliban member as saying. The leader said one group within the Taliban wanted one of Omar's sons to take over, while another favored Akhtar Mohammed Mansour, a supporter of the peace talks.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is keen to broker a settlement with the militants, who have increased attacks on political and military targets. They have also expanded their operations to the country's north and continue to launch attacks in Kunduz, located on the border to Tajikistan and in Badakhshan, in the northeast.
The Afghan army has been partially effective in routing the militants, especially after international forces left the country at the end of last year.
mg/kms (Reuters, AP, AFP)