Afghan Taliban confirms Mansoor’s death, appoints new leader

The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday confirmed the death of its leader Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor in an airstrike over the weekend.

The Taliban has appointed Moulavi Haibatullah Akhundzada as its new leader to replace Mansoor, the militant group said in an online statement.

“The Leadership Council of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the name of the ousted Taliban regime) … announced that the council unanimously appointed Moulavi Haibatullah Akhundzada as the new leader,” the statement said.

The statement noted that all the members of Taliban’s leadership council had pledged allegiance to Akhundzada.

Akhunzada, who served as the second deputy chief of Mansoor, is a member of the leadership council of the Taliban.

He belongs to Noorzai, a major tribe in Pushton dominated areas. Akhundzada, in his 50s, is a resident of Panjwayi district of the southern Kandahar province. He, according to locals, is a religious scholar rather than a military commander.

The statement also said the council has chosen Mullah Sarrajuddin Haqqani and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, as the first and second deputies to Akhundzada respectively.

Mansoor was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Saturday in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

The Taliban also confirmed that Mansoor was killed in the drone strike. Mansoor became the Taliban leader on July 30, 2015, one day after the news about the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Omar was disclosed.

“We call on all Muslims to hold three days of mourning (from Thursday) for late Akhtar Mansoor and hold prayer for his services and for his soul,” the statement said. (Xinhua)