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By Mirwais Harooni and Jessica Donati KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan said on Wednesday that Mullah Omar, elusive leader of the Taliban movement behind an escalating insurgency against the government in Kabul, died more than two years ago. The announcement came a day or so before a second round of peace talks had been tentatively scheduled, and news of the fate of the one-eyed Omar could deepen Taliban divisions over whether to pursue negotiations and who should replace him. Omar had not been seen in public since fleeing when the Taliban was toppled from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001, and there has been speculation for years among militant circles that he was either incapacitated or had died.
Taliban supremo Mullah Omar died two years ago in Pakistan, Afghanistan said on Wednesday, after unnamed government and militant sources reported the demise of the reclusive warrior-cleric. The insurgents have not officially confirmed the death of the supreme leader of the Taliban, who has not been seen publicly since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban government in Kabul. Rumours of Omar's ill-health and even death have regularly surfaced in the past, but the latest claims -- just two days before fresh peace talks with the insurgents -- mark the first such confirmation from the Afghan government.