KABUL - The Afghan Taliban rejected as "propaganda" on Monday unsourced media reports that their leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, had been killed in Pakistan, saying he was alive and in Afghanistan and vowing to continue their insurgency.
Security officials in Pakistan and diplomats, U.S. military commanders and government officials in Afghanistan all cast doubt on reports that Omar, one of the most-wanted men in the world, had been killed while traveling between Quetta and North Waziristan in Pakistan.
"He is in Afghanistan safe and sound," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location. "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."
With a $10 million U.S. bounty on his head, he fled with the rest of the Afghan Taliban leadership to Quetta after their government was toppled by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in late 2001. They formed the "Quetta shura," or leadership council.
Taliban said the rumors of Mullah Omar's death would not stop their fighters from continuing attacks.
"The enemy, with these kinds of rumors, is trying to halt the devastating waves of 'Badar' operations and is trying to create confusion amongst mujahedeen, countrymen and faithful Muslims," the Taliban said in an emailed statement.
"Our nation is an intelligent nation, which is aware of the tricks and lies of the devious and cunning enemy," it said.
In Kabul, senior diplomats and U.S. military officials also could not confirm the report and would not comment publicly. Some described the reports as "speculation."
There have been reports in the past that Omar and other members of the Quetta shura had been killed or captured. Last week, some Pakistani media reported the Afghan Taliban leader had been captured in Pakistan. (Reuters)