Statement claims leader’s health ‘deteriorated’ in past two weeks.
The Taliban on Thursday confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Omar in a statement, a day after it was announced by the Afghan government.
“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 Afghan government on Wednesday said Omar died two years ago in Pakistan, in the first such official confirmation from Kabul after unnamed government and militant sources reported the demise of the reclusive warrior-cleric. The Taliban statement did not say when he died but said “his health condition deteriorated in the last two weeks.” It added that three days of religious ceremonies would be held “to pray for the soul of Mullah Omar.”
Mullah Omar has not been seen publicly since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban government in Kabul.
Haseeb Sediqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, told AFP on Wednesday that Omar died in hospital in Karachi “under mysterious circumstances.”
Omar’s death marks a significant blow to the Taliban, which is riven by internal divisions and threatened by the rise of the Islamic State group, the Middle East jihadist outfit that is making steady inroads in Afghanistan.