Afghan Taliban appoints new leader after deadly drone strike

iStock [www.istockphoto.com]

Kabul – An Afghan Taliban spokesperson has confirmed the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, the group's leader, in a US drone strike and announced the appointment of Haibatullah Akhunzada as his successor.

Agencies on Wednesday quoted the Taliban spokesperson as saying that Sirajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Yaqoob have been appointed as new deputy leaders.

The announcement followed confirmation on Monday by President Barack Obama that Mansoor was killed in a US strike in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan's chief executive, said on Twitter on Sunday that Mansoor was dead. Afghanistan's spy agency also said he had been killed.

Mansoor was chosen to head the Afghan Taliban last summer after it was announced that the group's longtime leader Mullah Omar had died two years earlier.

The Taliban is the most powerful armed group in Afghanistan, where an estimated 11 000 civilians were killed or wounded and 5 500 government troops and police officers died last year alone.

It seized power in 1996 and ruled Afghanistan until it was toppled by a US-led invasion after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

Almost 15 years later, about 13 000 troops are in the country from a US-NATO coalition, including about 9 800 Americans.

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