Taliban confirm leader Mullah Mansoor killed in US drone strike
KABUL (92 News) – The Afghan Taliban Mullah Abdul Rauf has confirmed the death of its leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, after the US military said he was targeted in a drone strike in Pakistan.
Mullah Abdul Rauf, a senior commander of the militant group said that Mansour died in the strike on Friday night. Rauf said the strike took place “in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area”.
The office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed the strike but did not confirm Mansour’s death, though the country’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said Mansour was “more than likely” dead.
Mansour formally led the Taliban after the death of the movement’s founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was announced last summer.
Mansour, Mullah Omar’s deputy, concealed Mullah Omar’s death for more than two years, and ran the Taliban in his name until the death was revealed by the Afghan government.
The United States conducted a drone strike on Saturday against the leader of Afghan Taliban, likely killing him on the Pakistan side of the remote border region with Afghanistan in a mission authorized by US President Barack Obama, officials said.
The death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour, should it be confirmed, could further fracture the Taliban – an outcome that experts cautioned might make the insurgents even less likely to participate in long-stalled peace efforts.
The mission, which included multiple drones, demonstrated a clear willingness by Obama to go after the Afghan Taliban leadership in Pakistan now that the insurgents control or contest more territory in Afghanistan than at any time since being ousted by a US-led intervention in 2001.
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook confirmed an air strike targeting Mansour in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region but declined to speculate on his fate, although US officials speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters he likely was killed.