Monday May 23, 201107:39 AM GMT
'Taliban leader Mullah Omar killed'
Mon May 23, 2011 5:18AM
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Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar
An Afghan local television network has quoted Afghan intelligence sources as saying that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has been killed in Pakistan.

"Mullah Omar was killed on way from Quetta to North Waziristan," TOLO television said in its news bulletin, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

The private television channel, however, did not provide any further details.

Afghan Taliban, however, have rejected the report, saying Mullah Omar is alive and in Afghanistan.

"He is in Afghanistan safe and sound," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"It's only propaganda and we completely deny these rumors. He is inside Afghanistan and he is busy directing military operations with his commanders,'' the spokesperson further explained.

Meanwhile, a security official confirmed the killing, emphasizing that Mullah Omar was killed inside Pakistan.

“It is correct that Mullah Omar has been killed," the official said.

Mullah Omar, the founder of the Taliban, was Afghanistan's de facto head of state from 1996 to 2001.

The Taliban leader had survived US military manhunt since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The report of Mullah Omar killing comes just weeks after the alleged killing of the world's most wanted man and al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by American troops in his compound near Islamabad.

US President Barack Obama claimed that bin Laden was killed by US forces on May 2 in a hiding compound in Pakistan. He added that the military mission was conducted without the knowledge of Pakistani authorities due to US mistrust of their purported South Asia ally.

Some White House officials suggest that Islamabad was aware of bin Laden's location and demand a strong response. Others, however, believe that any retaliatory measure will jeopardize Pakistan's help which is crucial to America's military operations in Afghanistan.

Moreover, a number of former US military personnel and commanders have also stated that bin Laden was killed in a major bombing during the early stages of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The US invaded Afghanistan with the official objective of curbing militancy and bringing peace and stability to the region, however, after nine years the region remains unstable and militancy has expanded towards Pakistan.

Analysts say the US is looking for an excuse to expand its military operations in the troubled South and Central Asian region to secure bases near Russia and China.

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