Afghan Taliban sources confirm death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in US drone strike

AFP , Sunday 22 May 2016

In this Aug. 1, 2015 file photo, shows Taliban leader Mullah Mansour. (Photo: AP)

Senior Afghan Taliban sources on Sunday confirmed the death of their chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike in Pakistan, adding that a council is underway to decide his successor.

"I can say with good authority that Mullah Mansour is no more," a senior Taliban source told AFP.

Mansour's death was confirmed by two other senior figures, who said the group's top leaders were gathering in southwest Pakistan to name their future chief.

"Mullah Zakir, Mullah Shireen and Siraj Haqqani are strong candidates," one of the sources told AFP.

Another Taliban source confirmed Haqqani, leader of the feared Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network and one of Mansour's deputies, was a frontrunner, adding that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was also in contention.

Both figures are viewed by analysts as being close to Pakistan, which is hosting many of the Taliban's top leadership, ostensibly to exert influence over them and bring them back to peace talks with Kabul, which began in 2015.

Mansour was reportedly killed in a drone strike in the southwest Pakistan province of Baluchistan on Saturday afternoon.

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