Taliban confirm Mullah Omar’s death

Islamabad, July 30

Two high-ranking Afghan Taliban officials have confirmed the death of their leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, and say the group’s council has elected a successor.

The two told The Associated Press that the Taliban Shura, or Supreme Council, has chosen Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as the new leader. He has been acting as Mullah Omar’s deputy for the past three years.

The two Taliban officials say the seven-member-council has been meeting in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised by the council to talk to the media.

They also said the group chose Sirajuddin Haqqani as their new deputy leader.

Meanwhile, Pakistan said the second round of peace talks between the Kabul government and the Taliban, which was due tomorrow, has been postponed after a statement from the Afghan insurgents indicated they were pulling out of the negotiations.

Today’s development is likely a significant blow to the peace process. It follows Kabul’s announcement the day before of the death of the reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said the talks were postponed because of the “uncertainty” caused by the death announcement. It says Afghan Taliban leadership also requested the postponement.

The ministry gave no new date for the talks.