The Taliban released photos claiming to show a hideout where Mullah Omar, their leader, spent his final years after a new report claims he lived as a virtual hermit near an American base in southern Afghanistan.
The research drawing on interviews with Taliban figures and the former bodyguard said to have hidden him contradicts CIA and Afghan intelligence theories that Omar had fled to Pakistan after the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
The Taliban have always maintained he lived in Afghanistan until he died in 2013 and on Monday endorsed the findings of a report from the Zomia Centre, a New York research group.
The group also released two photos showing a modest mud brick courtyard and simple room where a spokesman said Omar had lived for his final seven years.
A statement from the insurgent movement said Omar “never visited Pakistan or other country for a single day. He passed away because he refused treatment in another country for a curable disease. [The] report published in this regard is correct.”
Nevertheless, Afghan authorities adamantly maintain that he actually died in exile in Pakistan.