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Afghans Probe Claim Taliban Leader Died07/29 06:14

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- An Afghan official says his government is 
examining claims that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. The Taliban 
could not be immediately reached for comment on the government's comments about 
Omar, who has been declared dead many times before.

   Omar, the one-eyed, secretive head of the Taliban and an al-Qaida ally, led 
a bloody insurgency against U.S.-led forces after they toppled him from his 
rule in Afghanistan in 2001.

   Zafar Hashemi, a deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, made 
the announcement at a news conference Wednesday in Kabul.

   A Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he 
wasn't authorized to brief journalists, called the circling rumors 
"speculation" designed to disrupt peace talks.


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