This television frame grab from 1996 taken secretly by BBC Newsnight shows Taliban's spiritual leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, center, in Kandahar in 1996. (AFP PHOTO/BBC NEWS/NEWSNIGHT)
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Afghanistan said Wednesday that Mullah Omar, the elusive leader of the Taliban movement fighting to topple the government, died more than two years ago.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.Preparations had been under way for the next round of talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, provisionally planned for Thursday or Friday in a location yet to be confirmed.A senior Afghan Taliban commander based in neighboring Pakistan said Omar had died of natural causes, although he did not specify when.Omar and fellow leaders fled into hiding, from where they coordinated raids against the Afghan government and NATO troops stationed there to restore stability.
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