The Taleban denied a report in the Afghan press that the insurgent group's leader had been killed in neighboring Pakistan, saying that Mullah Mohammad Omar is alive and in Afghanistan.
"This is absolutely wrong. It's only propaganda and we completely deny these rumors," Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in a phone call. "He is inside Afghanistan and he is busy directing military operations with his commanders."
There has been much speculation that the US might ramp up efforts to kill or capture the reclusive, one-eyed Taleban leader after the successful strike against Osama bin Laden. President Barack Obama has said he would order another covert military raid if it was necessary to stop terrorist attacks.
Most of those with knowledge of the Taleban organization say Omar is hiding in southern Pakistan, around Quetta or Karachi.
Afghan news channel Tolo quoted an anonymous Afghan intelligence official as saying Omar had been shot dead in Pakistan while being moved from Quetta to North Waziristan with the help of former Pakistani intelligence chief Gen.
North Waziristan is a tribal area home to militants whose primary focus is attacking US and NATO troops across the border in Afghanistan.
A Pakistani intelligence official said that there was no information to suggest the report of Omar's death was true. He spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Gul told the AP that the story was false.
"This is propaganda, sheer deception, disinformation," Gul said. "I have never met him. I've never seen him. No contact whatsoever."