Afghan CEO Abdullah Abdullah said early Sunday that if Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death is confirmed major changes within the ranks of the Taliban can be expected.
Addressing a press conference, Abdullah said if Mansour is dead a number of Taliban leaders could join the peace process.
He said that it was possible that Mansour was killed in a targeted drone attack on Saturday in Pakistan.
He went on to say that government will announce Mansour’s death once they have had confirmation in this regard.
Meanwhile the president’s office confirmed early Sunday that a drone strike had been carried out. According to Dawa Khan Menapal, the president’s deputy spokesman, they are still waiting for confirmation of Mansour’s death.
In a statement issued by the president’s office, he said that Mansour had continuously rejected peace and continued to bring carnage and terror to the people of Afghanistan.
Abdullah meanwhile said Mansour had been a major obstacle in the way of the Afghan peace process and that his death would be a big blow to the insurgent group.
The Pentagon issued a statement overnight Sunday confirming a U.S drone strike on Saturday against Mansour’s vehicle near Ahmad Wal town, in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province – which is along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
The Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, said Mansour had posed a danger to U.S. and Afghan forces and to local civilians, and had disrupted U.S.-backed ¬efforts to broker a political solution to Afghanistan’s long conflict.
“Mansour has been an obstacle to peace and reconciliation between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban, prohibiting Taliban leaders from participating in peace talks with the Afghan government,” Cook said.
If confirmed, Mansour’s death would be a significant development as Afghan government troops, backed by a small contingent of U.S. and partner forces, prepare to take on an emboldened Taliban during what is expected to be a punishing summer fighting season, read the statement.
Mansour took over as the group’s leader in July last year after news emerged of the death of the Taliban’s former leader Mullah Omar two years earlier.