The Pentagon said late Saturday that a drone strike launched in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province earlier in the day “likely” killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a U.S official said the operation took place at about 6 am local time in a remote area near Ahmad Wal town, reported the New York Times.
According to the source, the operation involved several unmanned U.S aircraft, and struck a vehicle in which Mansour was believed to be traveling in.
The official said a second passenger, who officials described as another combatant, was also likely killed.
Meanwhile, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook, announcing the airstrike in a statement, 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.