Taliban Chief Mullah Omar Is Dead: Afghan Official

The Afghan government announced Wednesday that longtime Taliban leader Mullah Omar was dead.

"I can confirm that Mullah Omar is dead," the spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security Abdul Hassib Sediqi told NBC News. "According to our intelligence Mullah Omar has died in a hospital in Pakistan a couple years ago."

Rumors have circulated for years that the leader of the militant group that ruled Afghanistan until being toppled by U.S.-backed forces in 2001 had died.

Afghan intelligence officials told NBC News earlier that the government came to the conclusion Omar had died about two years earlier during a high-level national security meeting Wednesday morning.

The government had sufficient information to conclude that Omar died of hepatitis B about two years ago, and his death was kept secret to keep the group together, a second intelligence source told NBC News. 

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