An Afghan official says his government is examining claims that reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar is dead. The Taliban could not be immediately reached for comment on the government's comments about Omar, who has been declared dead many times before.

Omar, the one-eyed, secretive head of the Taliban and an al-Qaida ally, led a bloody insurgency against U.S.-led forces after they toppled him from his rule in Afghanistan in 2001.

Zafar Hashemi, a deputy spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, made the announcement at a news conference Wednesday in Kabul.

A Pakistani security official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he wasn't authorized to brief journalists, called the circling rumors "speculation" designed to disrupt peace talks.

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Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.