Afghan intel confirms U.S. drone strike killed Taliban leader

by WorldTribune Staff, May 22, 2016

The leader of the Afghan Taliban was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan, Afghanistan intelligence sources have confirmed.

The May 21 attack killed Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the sources said. U.S. officials said the drone strike was authorized by President Barack Obama and “showed the United States was prepared to go after the Taliban leadership in Pakistan.”

Mullah Akhtar Mansour
Mullah Akhtar Mansour

Afghan government chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and the country’s top intelligence agency said the attack had been successful.

“Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour was killed in a drone strike … His car was attacked in Dahl Bandin,” Abdullah said in a post on Twitter, referring to a district in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province just over the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistan protested on May 22, saying the U.S. government did not inform Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif beforehand.

“This is a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” Sharif told reporters in London.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that Washington had only notified Pakistan after the strike.

Mansour posed a “continuing, imminent threat” to U.S. personnel and Afghans, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a news conference while on a visit to Myanmar.

“If people want to stand in the way of peace and continue to threaten and kill and blow people up, we have no recourse but to respond and I think we responded appropriately,” Kerry said.

Mansour’s death is likely to lead to a succession battle within the Afghan Taliban after fractures emerged in the movement after the death of its founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was confirmed in 2015, more than two years after it occurred.