The United States has killed the leader of the Afghan Taliban in an air strike in a remote border area just inside Pakistan, Afghanistan said on Sunday, in an attack likely to dash any immediate prospect for peace talks.
The death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour could trigger a battle for succession and deepen fractures that emerged in the insurgent movement after the death of its founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar, was confirmed last year, more than two years after he died.
Saturday’s strike, which U.S. officials said was authorised by President Barack Obama and included multiple drones, showed the United States was prepared to go after the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, which the Western-backed government in Kabul has repeatedly accused of sheltering the insurgents.
It also underscored the belief among U.S. commanders that under Mansour’s leadership, the Taliban have grown increasing close to militant groups like al Qaeda, posing a direct threat to U.S. security.
The United States has not confirmed Mansour’s death but Afghan government chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, and the country’s top intelligence agency, said he had been killed. (Reuters)
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