Extremist expected to continue fight
The Afghan Taliban has appointed a successor to leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a US drone strike last week.
In a statement sent to the media, the Taliban said their new leader is Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, one of two of Mansour’s deputies. The insurgent group said he was chosen at a meeting of Taliban leaders, which was believed to have been held in Pakistan, but offered no other details.
The announcement came as a suicide bomber struck a minibus carrying court employees in the Afghan capital, killing at least 10 people, an official said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Mansour was killed in Pakistan on Saturday when his vehicle was struck by a US drone, an attack that is believed to be the first time a Taliban leader was killed in such a way inside Pakistani territory.
The United States and the Afghan government have said that Mansour had been an obstacle to a peace process, which ground to a halt when he refused to participate in peace talks earlier this year. Instead, he intensified the war in Afghanistan, now in its 15th year.
Senior Taliban figures have said Mansour’s death could strengthen the movement, as he was in some ways a divisive figure.
His successor is a religious scholar, known for issuing public statements justifying the existence of the Taliban, their war against the Afghan government and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
His views are regarded as hawkish, and he could be expected to continue in the aggressive footsteps of Mansour. Yesterday’s statement said two new deputies had also been appointed - both of whom had earlier been thought to be contenders for the top job.
BLAST: Scene of the drone strike
KILLED: Mullah Akhtar Mansour