AFGHAN TALIBAN APPOINT NEW LEADER AFTER MANSOUR DEATH
ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban named Mullah Akhtar Mansoor’s successor on Wednesday as the group confirmed the late chief was killed in a US drone strike in Balochistan last week.
The new chief, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, is one of Mansoor’s two deputies. A scholar known for his extremist views, he is unlikely to back a peace process with Kabul. In a statement sent to the media, the Taliban said he was chosen at a meeting believed to have taken place in Pakistan.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan announces that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor embraced shahadat in a US drone strike in the border region near Kandahar’s Registan and Balochistan’s Naushki area,” a statement from the Taliban read.
Mansoor was appointed head of the Afghan Taliban last July following the revelation that the group’s founder Mullah Omar had been dead for two years. The election of a new leader took time as the Rahbari Shura wanted to evolve a broadbased consensus to avoid any controversy, said the Taliban leaders.
Local media reports said senior members of the Taliban had been keenly aware of the need to appoint a candidate who could repair the splits that emerged when Mansoor was appointed.
Pakistan Army chief general Raheel Sharif warned that the drone strike targeting Mansoor is detrimental to bilateral relations between Pakistan and the US.
Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada