Taliban chief Mullah Mansour killed in US drone strike, successor appointed

The Taliban has gained ground in both Afghanishtan and Pakistan.
The Taliban has gained ground in both Afghanishtan and Pakistan.

The Afghan Taliban on 25 May confirmed the death of its chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike and appointed his successor, Haibatullah Akhundzada as their new leader.

Mansour was killed in Pakistan on 23 May in the first US drone attack inside Pakistani territory.

Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, one of Mansour’s deputies, was chosen as Taliban’s supremo at a meeting of the group’s leaders, believed to have been held in Pakistan. The new leader is a religious scholar and his views are regarded as hawkish.

Sirajuddin Haqqani and Taliban founder Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Yakoub were appointed as Akhundzada’s two deputies. “Both have, however, refused to take on the responsibility, as per AFP.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, said to be close to the Pakistani military establishment and Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, one of the Taliban’s most violent and committed commanders, are in the fray.

Though Mansour once appeared in favour of the peace negotiations with the government in Kabul, after becoming the Taliban chief he did not take part in the peace talks.

According to the Express Tribune, “There’s only one option for the Taliban and that is to pursue a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” said US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner.