There are conflicting reports coming out of Pakistan and Afghanistan regarding the whereabouts (and very existence) of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the reputed head of the Taliban.
Anonymous sources in Afghanistan said over the weekend that Omar was dead, while another said he had been missing for more than two weeks.
A private Afghan TV network named TOLO said Omar had died after being shot by Hamid Gul, the former chief general ISI, the Pakistani intelligence network, while being transported from Quetta to North Waziristan.
However, Gul himself told Reuters: “I am in Muree [Pakistan] with my wife and I have no involvement in this, whether he is dead or alive. We don’t know if he is dead or not. My sense is he is alive.”
The reports of Omar’s demise have been disputed by senior Afghan and Pakistani officials as well as Western military sources.
Nutfullah Mashal, spokesman for the Afghan domestic intelligence service, National Directorate of Security speaks, said Monday that Mullah Omar was known to be living in Quetta, Pakistan, near the Afghan border, as recently as five days ago, but has since disappeared.
“We can confirm that he has… disappeared from his hideout in Quetta,” he said.
“He has… disappeared from his location during the last four to five days. So far we cannot confirm the killing of Mullah Omar officially.”
Meanwhile, Taliban sources in Afghanistan has denied that their leader has died, claiming he is alive and well.
Reports regarding the killing of [Omar] are false. He is safe and sound, Afghan Taliban spokesman Qari Muhamad Yousaf told Afghan Islamic Press.
Another Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Reuters by telephone: “[Omar] is in Afghanistan safe and sound. We strongly reject these baseless allegations that Mullah Mohammad Omar has been killed. This is the propaganda by the enemy to weaken the morale of fighters.”
Omar, now the most wanted man in the world following the killing two weeks ago of Osama bin Laden, is believed to have fled Afghanistan for Quetta in Pakistan in late 2001 following the invasion of that country by US forces.
Meanwhile, the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have stepped up attacks on symbols of the state, recording killings virtually every other day.