Taliban fighters deny claims leader Mullah Omar is dead

Taliban spokesmen in Afghanistan denied today that the group's leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, had died, claiming that a phone message and a posting on the internet were fake.

Zabiullah Mujahid said a text message sent to journalists on his behalf was the result of a phone hack. "He is overseeing operations in the country," he said. He added that "outsiders must have hacked into Taliban phones and the website".

Mujahid blamed US intelligence agencies, saying they were trying "to demoralise the Taliban".

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Rumours spread that Mullah Omar had died when the text message, allegedly sent from Mujahid, announced that the "Amir ul Mumineen", or "commander of the Muslim faithful", was dead. That title is reserved for the Taliban leader. Another Taliban spokesman, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, said: "Those agents who have been unsuccessful in Afghanistan are now trying to use these tactics to bring down the morale of the mujahedeen.

Mullah Omar ruled most of Afghanistan as leader of its Taliban government before the United States and its allies invaded on October 7, 2001.

Quake victims 'were not spies'

A group of young Israelis caught up in the Christchurch earthquake were investigated for possible links to Israeli intelligence, but no connection was found, New Zealand's prime minister said today

John Key was responding to claims the quake unearthed an Israeli spy ring.

Banker 'took F1 boss bribes'

Prosecutors have charged a former executive at a German bank with taking bribes from Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone in connection with the 2006 sale of the bank's stake in F1.

Gerhard Gribkowsky was in charge of managing the sale of regional bank BayernLB's stake to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners.

Prosecutors say Gribkowsky sold the stake without updating its valuation in return for bribes disguised as consulting contracts.

President survives rocket attack

Guinea's president narrowly survived an assassination attempt after gunmen surrounded his home overnight and pounded his bedroom with rockets.

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President Alpha Conde was saved because he was sleeping in a different room when the shooting erupted outside his residence at around 3am local time.

Nepal sizes up Everest

Nepal's government has ordered a new measurement of Mount Everest to determine exactly how high the world's highest mountain is.

There have been claims made recently by China and climbers that the decades-old measurement of 29,028 feet is incorrect.

China: Fourteen rioters were shot dead after storming a police station in Hotan city in the Xinjiang region, state media said today.It was the first official death toll for the rioters, who occupied a police station yesterday and hacked to death a security guard.

United States: Rescue rangers at Yosemite National Park are scouring an area below a waterfall after witnesses reported seeing at least one hiker swept over the falls.