Taliban say Mullah Omar alive, phones hacked

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Kandahar, Jul 20: The Taliban today (Jul 20) said Mullah Omar was alive, accusing the Americans of hacking their phones after a text message sent to media from a spokesman's phone said the leader was dead.

In the message, Zabihullah Mujahid said: "Leadership council of IEA (Islamic emirate of Afghanistan) announces that Ameer-ul-Mumineen (Mullah Omar) has passed away. May mighty God bless him." He later denied sending the message, speaking by telephone.

"We strongly reject this claim. We are not aware of such news. Americans have hacked our cellphones with advanced technology and sent the message to the media," said Mujahid.

A second spokesman, Qari Yosuf Ahmadi, also said phones had been hacked.

"That's a false message. The Westerners hacked into our cellphones and sent the message from our numbers to everyone. They want to deceive the Afghan people. It's wrong. He is not dead and is alive," said Ahmadi.

Omar is the one-eyed spiritual leader of the insurgency who presided over the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul, which was toppled in a US-led invasion for its support of Al-Qaeda.

Violence is at a record high in the insurgency against the Kabul government and 150,000 US-led foreign troops, and US and Afghan officials are trying to reach out to insurgents to broker a political solution. 

AFP

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