Kabul : Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, a top Afghan Taliban leader who backed the peace process and a former aviation minister in the pre-2001 Taliban regime, has been appointed as the new chief of the insurgent group, as Taliban confirmed the death of its longtime supremo Mullah Omar.

 Mullah Akhtar, a close aide of Mullah Omar who served as his deputy for the past three years, was chosen as the new leader by Taliban Shura (top decision making body).

The council also elected Sirajuddin Haqqani, the chief of dreaded Haqqani network as deputy of the Taliban’s leader.                 Haqqani carries an American bounty of $10 million on his head as a leader of the Haqqani network, which is linked with al-Qaeda. Haqqani network has been blamed for several deadly attacks against Western and Indian interests in Afghanistan including 2008 bombing of Indian mission in Kabul.

“The Afghan Taliban held meetings last night after the reported death of Mullah Omar, and after consultation between all members of the Shura Council, elected Mansoor as their new chief,” the Dawn reported.

Hours after Mullah Akhtar’s appointment, Taliban today confirmed the death of Mullah Omar in a statement.

“The leadership of the Islamic Emirate and the family of Mullah Omar… announce that leader Mullah Omar died due to a sickness,” a statement issued by the Taliban said, using the insurgent group’s official name.

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