KABUL/ISLAMABAD: The Taliban on Thursday evening officially confirmed the death of their leader Mullah Omar as militants said Omar died of "sickness", citing family members.
"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".Also read: Second round of Afghan-Taliban talks postponed
It was earlier reported today that the Afghan Taliban decided to appoint a new chief after reports claimed that former supremo Mullah Omar had died two years ago.
Well-informed sources told Geo News on Thursday that 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.
Former chief and the movement's founder, Mullah Omar led the militant group to victory over competing Afghan militias in the 1990's after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
The Taliban government was ousted after the US-led forces invaded Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda bombings in New York and Washington.
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.
On July 7, The Afghan government conducted its first face-to-face talks with Taliban cadres supervised by American and Chinese representatives in the Pakistani hill station of Murree.