U.S. officials say that top Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed in a drone strike on Saturday in southwestern Pakistan.
Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security was the first one to confirm the death of Monsoor in a statement and was quickly followed up by Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah who said he was killed in his car by a drone strike in Dahl Bandin, Pakistan.
Pakistan’s government has not officially confirmed the death of Mansoor as they only mentioned the destruction of a vehicle along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
In a statement while visiting Vietnam, President Obama called the death “an important milestone” in an effort to bring piece to a region where “[Mansoor] rejected efforts by the Afghan government to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence that has taken the lives of countless innocent Afghan men, women and children.”
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the drone strike “a violation of [the state’s] sovereignty,” since according to a statement, they were only notified of the drone strike after it had already occurred.
The driver, Muhammad Azam, was identified and claimed at the scene by relatives and passenger Wali Muhammad is believed to be the second person killed in the strike.
Obama, who did not confirm that the strike on Mansoor was conducted in Pakistan, stated that the U.S. “will work on shared objectives with Pakistan, where terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven.”
A Taliban commander told NBC News they are seeking a successor for Mansoor as senior members called an emergency meeting of the leadership council in the aftermath of the strike. The Taliban has not issued a formal statement since then.
Taliban leadership could divide as a result of Mansoor’s death, since it is uncertain who will be his successor.
Mansoor was announced the top leader of the organization last year after it was confirmed that the previous Taliban leader, Mullah Omar had died 2 years prior.