Kabul investigating Mullah Mansour’s death in drone strike
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan government on Sunday confirmed a US drone strike had targeted Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, but could not confirm his death, saying his death would be a great opportunity for some Taliban leaders who wanted to join the reconciliation process.
“Today, the Department of Defense conducted an airstrike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said.
He said Masnour had been actively involved in planning attacks against facilities in Kabul and across Afghanistan and that he prevented Taliban leaders from joining the peace process with the Afghan government.
The Presidential Palace in Kabul in a statement said Mansour was an obstacle to peace and reconciliation and his death, if confirmed, would enable Taliban leaders to return to a normal life.
“Mullah Akhtar Mansour was the man who pressed continuation of fighting and bloodshed in the country. He often rejected the Afghan government’s and international community’s call to hold talks with the government. He was involved in the killing of thousands of innocent people, drug trafficking and spreading fear and horror among people,” the statement said.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, while chairing a Cabinet meeting, said an investigation into the death of Mullah Mansour was underway.
He said Mullah Mansour was more than likely dead in the drone strike and his death would be a huge blow to the insurgent group.
He hoped most Taliban members and fighters would join the peace negotiation in the absence of Mansour.
A senior Taliban leader confirmed to The Associated Press that Mansour had been killed in a drone strike near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking during a visit to Myanmar, repeatedly referred to Mansour in the past tense.
"Mansour posed a continuing imminent threat to US personnel in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians, Afghan security forces and members of Resolute Support," Kerry said. "Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort."
Kerry called for a post-Mansour Taliban to engage in serious peace negotiations with the Kabul government, saying, "It is time for Afghans to stop fighting and to start building a real future together."
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