Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor has been killed in a US strike in Pakistan, according to multiple sources, a year after he was appointed leader of the group.
Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said on Twitter that he was dead, the country’s spy agency also said he had been killed, and a source close to Mansoor told Al Jazeera he believed the reports to be true.
Earlier on Saturday, US officials told several media organisations that drone attacks authorised by President Barack Obama had likely killed him and another Taliban member.
A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also said the strike appeared to have been successful.
The Taliban, which has a history of refuting developments that could hurt its standing, has not yet issued an official statement though some of the group’s officials earlier denied the reports.
False rumours on the deaths of Taliban figures have circulated before. In December, the Afghan government said Mansoor had died after a gunfight. The Taliban later released an audio message from him in which he denied he had been killed.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the Taliban chief posed a “continuing imminent threat” to US personnel in Afghanistan and to Afghans, and was a threat to peace.
“This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan,” Kerry said.
Kerry said the leaders of both Pakistan and Afghanistan were notified of the strike but he did not say whether they were told before or after the attack took place. He said he had phoned Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.