The Taliban in Afghanistan on Monday rejected reports that its leader and one of the world’s most wanted men, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been killed in Pakistan.
A report in the Afghan media said that the Taliban’s bearded, one-eyed leader had been killed by Pakistani agents while traveling between Quetta and North Waziristan in neighboring Pakistan.
“This is absolutely wrong. It’s only propaganda and we completely deny these rumors,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press. “He is inside Afghanistan and he is busy directing military operations with his commanders.”
"This is the propaganda by the enemy to weaken the morale of fighters," Mujahid told Reuters.
Pakistan security officials and U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have expressed doubt about the reports of Omar’s death, according to Reuters.
Omar is rarely seen in public, and is said to be hiding in southern Pakistan.
Afghan news channel Tolo had quoted an Afghan intelligence official as saying that Omar had been shot dead in Pakistan while being moved from Quetta to North Waziristan with help of former Pakistani intelligence chief General Hamid Gul, The AP reports.
Another intelligence source told Agence France-Presse that Omar had been missing for 11 days following a meeting with Gul, a claim that Gul called “totally false,” adding that he has never met Omar.
U.S. and NATO officials said they were aware of the report of Omar’s death but had no information to confirm or deny it.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman told AFP that Omar was “safe and sound in a safe place.”
"There is no truth in the news about his killing. This information has been spread to weaken the Taliban," Ehsanullah Ehsan said.
The Taliban were removed from power in Afghanistan after refusing to hand over Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Bin Laden was killed in a special mission by U.S. NavySEALs in Pakistan on May 2.