Mullah Omar has since been in hiding, with a $10m US state department bounty on his head.
According to a BBC report that quoted Abdul Hassib Seddiqi, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, Omar had died of health issues at a Pakistan hospital two years ago.
“We confirm officially that he is dead”, he told The Associated Press.
He added that a group in the Taliban wants one of Omar’s sons to take over, while another favors the promotion of political leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, who has been among those who support peace talks.
Sediqi’s statement comes after unnamed government and militant sources told media, including AFP, that the one-eyed leader died two or three years ago.
In announcing Omar’s death, the spokesman for Ghani said the government is optimistic about the talks, “and thus calls on all armed opposition groups to seize the opportunity and join the peace process”.
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, U.S. special forces undertook a cave-to-cave search for elusive al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden and Omar.
“We have confirmed with Pakistani officials and with Taliban sources that he died due to illness”, the official said on condition of anonymity.
A Taliban spokesman, however, told Voice of America, a news service funded by the United States government, that Omar is “very much alive”. “It will be interesting to see if this announcement will have implications for a second round of peace talks, which were likely to be held in Pakistan this week”.
This is not the first time the death of Mullah Omar has been reported.
Separately, an adviser to the country’s chief executive said that the Taliban leader was believed to be dead.
“Even if he is dead, that doesn’t affect the Taliban movement”.
The militants have made significant territorial gains in recent months.
“I am happy to hear about the death of Mullah Omar, but I will not be happy that after his death another successor will emerge”.
The strategy has spread Afghan military resources thin after U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces ended their combat mission at the end of past year.