The Afghan government confirmed late Wednesday that the Taliban's Supreme leader Mullah Omar is dead after reports started surfacing two days ago. This comes just days before the second round of peace talks are due to start.
"The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, based on credible information, confirms that Mullah Mohammad Omar, leader of the Taliban died in April 2013 in Pakistan," President Ashraf Ghani's office said in a statement.
The confirmation from Presidential Palace – called ARG – came after sources within the Afghan National Security Council reported earlier in the day about the death of Taliban's one-eyed leader – who has rarely been seen in public.
According to unnamed sources earlier in the day, Omar - whose regime was overthrown by U.S.-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 - reportedly died two years ago.
The Taliban have not yet commented on the reports but are expected to send a statement soon to the media.
However the Afghan government said that grounds for the Afghan peace talks "are more paved now than before."
The statement called on the all armed opposition groups to "seize the opportunity and join the peace process."
Omar, who was Afghanistan's 11th head of state from 1996 to late 2001, was believed to have been living in Quetta and Karachi cities in Pakistan.
His regime called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was recognized by only three nations: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Over the past few days, some Pakistani media channels reported on the death of Mullah Omar. These reports started making headlines when debates about Omar's successor started circulating in Pakistan media.
Based on Pakistani media reports, Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, a close aide of Mullah Omar, is planning to replace his leader.
Abdul Qayoum Zakir, Taliban's military commander, is however reported to be opposing Mansour's move.
Meanwhile, some Pakistani media reports suggest that Omar's son, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoub, is himself hoping to succeed his father – a decision that many other senior leaders of Taliban have reportedly opposed. Yaqoub is said to have graduated from a Madrasa in the port city of Karachi.
Considering the discordance over the next leader of the group, analysts, meanwhile, believe the issue could leave a negative impact on the ongoing peace talks.
But questions have been raised over who wrote Omar's Eid statements and other messages over the past two years.
This year's Taliban Eid message, which was reportedly written quite politely compared to previous notes, was however welcomed by the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Mullah Omar has been wanted by the United States Department of State's Rewards for Justice program since October 2001 for sheltering Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda militants in the years prior to the September 11 attacks.
He is believed to have directed the Taliban insurgency against Afghanistan from Pakistan in the past 14 years.