AP Top News at 5:59 p.m. EDT

Taliban leader Mullah Omar, reclusive in life and death
Mullah Mohammad Omar, the secretive head of the Taliban and an al-Qaida ally who led a bloody insurgency against U.S.-led forces, eluded capture for more than a decade in spite of being one of the most-hunted fugitives on Earth. On Wednesday, he was reported to have died two years ago in a Pakistani hospital, according to the Afghan intelligence agency. In Washington, the U.S. government said they considered the report credible, though it was not confirmed by the Taliban or Pakistan.


US official: Debris in photo belongs to Boeing 777
WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. official says air safety investigators have a "high degree of confidence" that a photo of aircraft debris found in the Indian Ocean is of a wing component unique to the Boeing 777, the same model as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared last year. The official says investigators - including a Boeing air safety investigator - have identified the component as a "flaperon" from the trailing edge of a 777 wing.


Afghanistan says Taliban leader Mullah Omar died 2 years ago
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan asserted Wednesday that the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, died more than two years ago in a Pakistani hospital - an announcement that injects new uncertainty into the country's fragile peace process. If confirmed, the surprising news of the death of Mullah Omar, would remove a unifying figure for the insurgents, who are believed to be split on whether to continue the war or negotiate with the government of President Ashraf Ghani.


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Afghanistan says Taliban leader Mullah Omar died 2 years ago
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghanistan asserted Wednesday that the Taliban's reclusive leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, died more than two years ago in a Pakistani hospital - an announcement that injects new uncertainty into the country's fragile peace process. If confirmed, the surprisng news of the death of Mullah Omar, who had not been seen in public for decades, would remove a unifying figure for the insurgents, who are believed to be split on whether to continue the war or negotiate with the government of President Ashraf Ghani.


Ohio cop indicted on murder charge in traffic-stop shooting
CINCINNATI (AP) - A University of Cincinnati officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge, with a prosecutor saying the officer "purposely killed him" and "should never have been a police officer." Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the grand jury indictment at a news conference to discuss developments in the investigation into the July 19 shooting of 43-year-old motorist Samuel DuBose by Officer Ray Tensing.


Turkish attacks on Kurds muddle Obama's Islamic State fight
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - President Barack Obama's stepped-up partnership with Turkey in fighting the Islamic State may come at the cost of alienating another key group he's counting on for help in the same conflict: the Kurds. To Obama's relief, Turkey has finally started bombing Islamic State targets in neighboring Syria, and agreed to let the U.S. military launch airstrikes from key air bases inside Turkey in a deal announced last week. But in an unexpected twist, Turkey simultaneously started shelling Kurdish rebels in Iraq, where Kurds have proven unusually capable of wresting back territory from the Islamic State militants with the help of air support from the U.S.-led coalition.


Minnesota dentist rarely discussed hunting with patients
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota dentist who has become the target of worldwide outrage for hunting and killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe advised patients Wednesday to seek care elsewhere and said he rarely discussed his big-game hunting because it can be a "divisive and emotionally charged topic." Walter James Palmer was still secluded in the face of protests at his suburban Minneapolis clinic and intense condemnation online. He has not appeared in public since being identified Tuesday as a party to the lion's death.


On Capitol Hill, GOP fighting itself instead of Democrats
WASHINGTON (AP) - When Republicans took full control of Congress this year, they were determined to show voters they could govern responsibly. Instead they've been tearing each other apart in extraordinarily public displays, delighting Democrats and giving some in the GOP heartburn as the party aims for the White House in 2016. Just a few days ago, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz took to the Senate floor to accuse Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of lying, provoking a public dressing-down from top GOP senators.


House votes to provide money for highways, transit
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to shore up federal highway aid and veterans' health care before heading out of town for its August recess, leaving unresolved an array of sticky issues that are sure to complicate an autumn agenda already groaning under the weight of indecision. In one of their last decisions before adjourning for a month, the House backed a bill that would extend spending authority for transportation programs through Oct. 29, and replenish the federal Highway Trust Fund with $8 billion. That's enough money to keep highway and transit aid flowing to states through mid-December.


Carter: Successful Iran nuclear deal better than strike
WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that the U.S. armed forces stand ready to confront Iran, but told lawmakers that a successful implementation of the nuclear agreement with Tehran is preferable to a military strike. Carter, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and three members of President Barack Obama's Cabinet testified at a committee hearing as part of the White House's aggressive campaign to convince Congress to back the Iranian nuclear deal, which calls on Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.