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Chief missing, Taliban say he’s fine

world Updated: May 24, 2011 02:40 IST

Afghanistan's intelligence agency said on Monday that Taliban leader Mullah Omar had disappeared from his Pakistani hideout but did not confirm a claim, fiercely denied by the militants, that he was dead.

One-eyed Omar — who has a $10 million (Rs 4.5 crore) US bounty on his head and — is said to have vanished up to five days ago. "We can confirm that he has disappeared from his hideout in Quetta," said Lutfullah Mashal, spokesman for the National Directorate of Security.

"He disappeared during the last four to five days. So far, we cannot confirm the killing officially."

The comments came hours after an Afghan intelligence source claimed that Omar had been killed in Pakistan by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency while being moved from Quetta to Waziristan, near the Afghan border.

A separate intelligence source later told AFP that he had been missing for 11 days. The Taliban have furiously denied that he is dead or missing. Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the news was "pure propaganda".

Omar created the world’s strictest Islamist state in Afghanistan in the 1990s and sheltered bin Laden and al Qaeda before the 2001 US-led invasion ousted the militants.

Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik also said Pakistan had “no such information” on Omar’s alleged killing. In New Delhi, home minister P Chidambaram said India did have some information on Omar’s movement. But, he didn’t get into the specifics.

(AFP with HT inputs from New Delhi)