Islamabad : The Afghan Taliban’s founder Mullah Omar died of natural causes in his home country, his son has said in an attempt to quash the myriad rumours surrounding the warrior cleric’s mysterious death.

  The Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001 and has waged an anti-government insurgency since then, confirmed in July its founder had died. It later appointed Mullah Akhtar Mansour as its new head, sparking an internal rift with Omar’s family including his son Yakoub.

Afghan intelligence sources had previously said he died in 2013 in a hospital in the Pakistani metropolis of Karachi, while there had also been rumours he may have been killed by his enemies. The group itself later admitted covering up his death for two years, saying they had wanted to keep it secret until foreign forces ended their fight against the militants.

In an audio recording issued Sunday night, and confirmed to AFP by Afghan Taliban sources, Yakoub — who was initially reported to have been in contention to lead the group himself — said his father had died of a long-term illness in Afghanistan and was suffering from Hepatitis C.

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