“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 statement did not say when he died but said “his health condition deteriorated in the last two weeks” and “not for a single day did he go to Pakistan”.
It added that three days of religious ceremonies would be held “to pray for the soul of Mullah Omar”.
Well-informed sources told that on Thursday a meeting of the Taliban supreme council (shura) was called in Afghanistan on Wednesday in which it was unanimously decided that Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor will now serve as the movement’s supreme leader.
Sources said that Khalifah Sirajuddin Haqqani and Haibatullah Akhundzada were also appointed as deputies during the meeting, which was attended by all available members.
New Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor previously served as the second-in-command of the movement. He belongs from the Afghan province of Kandahar and is said to be supportive of peace negotiations.
On Wednesday, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Afghanistan’s intelligence agency officials claimed that the reclusive former Taliban chief died two years ago at a hospital in Pakistan.
“Mullah Omar is dead,” said Haseeb Sediqi, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security. “He died in a Karachi hospital in April 2013… under mysterious circumstances.”
A statement from the Afghan Presidential Palace later claimed: “The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, based on credible information, confirms that Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban died in April 2013 in Pakistan.”
“The government of Afghanistan believes that grounds for the Afghan peace talks are more paved now than before, and thus calls on all armed opposition groups to seize the opportunity and join the peace process.”
The United States also claimed that reports of Mullah Omar’s death appeared “credible”.
News of the former Taliban leader’s death came just two days before a second round of peace talks between the insurgents and Afghan government representatives which are expected to take place in Pakistan.
Also, Daesh or the self-styled Islamic State (IS) had in the past few months increased its footprint in Afghanistan establishing itself in previously Taliban-controlled areas. Daesh and Taliban are also locked in fight for control of some other regions.
Born in 1960 in the village of Chah-i-Himmat, in Kandahar province, Mullah Omar received his early education from a seminary, according to Taliban sources.
He also fought against Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan in 1980s during which he suffered a shrapnel injury to his right eye, due to which he Lost his Right Eye.
Mullah Omar was Afghanistan’s de facto head of state during their 1996-2001 rule over Afghanistan.The heavily bearded, one-eyed Omar has not been seen in public since the Taliban government in Afghanistan was toppled by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001.
The Taliban were toppled for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the United States. Mullah Omar had forged close ties to al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden
The US State Department had offered a $10 million bounty on his head and described him as a tall male with a shrapnel wound to the right eye.
Mullah Omar, along with several other Taliban leaders, was said to have fled to Quetta where they formed the “Quetta shura”. A shura is a leadership council. other reports had also claimed that Mullah Omar had fled to Pakistan’s Karachi city.
Later the United States had said it will not target Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders unless they posed a direct threat to the US, following the withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan in January this year.