A splinter group of the Afghan Taliban has claimed militant leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has not been seen in public in years, was killed by senior commanders two years ago.
The Afghanistan Islamic Movement Fidai Mahaz’s spokesperson Qari Hamza, said the reclusive Omar was killed by commanders Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansoor and Gull Agha in July 2013.
Hamza said his group has evidence to prove its claims, Khaama Press reported on Thursday.
Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), had said in November last year that Omar had possibly died. There are also reports that the Afghan Taliban has split into three factions.
NDS spokesperson Hasib Sediqi told the media in November last year that the two Taliban factions are led by Mullah Qayum Zakir and Mullah Agha, while the third comprises “neutral” militant leaders.
Reports last year had also suggested that Omar had given his old friend and deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, the authority to make decisions on his behalf regarding the peace process with the government.
Some officials in the presidential palace have claimed Omar is in custody of Pakistani security forces in the port city of Karachi.
Aimal Faizi, spokesperson for former president Hamid Karzai, said this information was shared by US secretary of state John Kerry.
“The current secretary of state John Kerry, who was serving as a US Senator, had shared the issue with President Karzai during a meeting in Kabul,” Faizi said.
Karzai sought a clarification regarding Omar’s presence in Karachi but received “no satisfactory” response from Kerry.
“President Karzai immediately responded and said why the US is not taking any action to apprehend him? There is a US bounty on him and ordinary civilians are targeted on daily basis under his leadership, but he is in the custody of Pakistani forces,” Faizi said.
On July 15, a message purportedly from Omar appeared for the first time to signal approval for peace talks with the Afghan government. It represented the first word in the name of Omar on the budding peace process that has split the Afghan Taliban. The statement posted on a website linked to the Taliban did not include audio or a video.
However, Omar has not been seen in public since the US-led intervention in 2001. Some disgruntled Taliban factions have suggested he is dead or very ill and others may be making statements in his name.
The Afghan Taliban's political chief, Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, is in favour of negotiations while military commander Abdul Qayum Zakir is against them.
Some disgruntled Taliban commanders have defected to the Islamic State led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.