KABUL – Jalaluddin Haqqani, the founder of the Haqqani militant group, has died after prolonged illness, the Afghan Taliban has announced, without sharing details about the date and place of his death.

Haqqani was a key militant leader in Afghanistan and had close links with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The network has been carried out several coordinated attacks in Afghanistan, targetting Afghan and Nato forces in previous years.

His son, Sirajuddin Haqqani, is believed to have taken over control of the banned outfit in 2001.

“Just as he endured great hardships for the religion of Allah during his youth and health, he also endured long illness during his later years,” a statement from the Afghan Taliban said.

He has, reportedly, been buried in Afghanistan at an unknown place. Rumours about Haqqani’s death have circulated for years.

Jalaluddin was a militant leader sponsored by the CIA, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia during the fight against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. He served in the Taliban government after it took power in 1996 following years of civil war.

After the fall of the Taliban regime in the 2001 US-led invasion, he had joined the insurgency.