Taliban sources confirm leader's death in drone strike as Pakistan slams U.S. incursion

The Japan Times

Balochistan, PAKISTAN/KABUL/WASHINGTON – Taliban supremo Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan, senior militant sources told AFP Sunday, adding that an insurgent assembly was underway to decide on his successor. Saturday's bombing raid, the first known U.S. assault on a top Afghan Taliban leader on Pakistani soil, marks a major blow to the militant movement, which saw a new resurgence under Mansour. The elimination of Mansour, who rose to the rank of leader nine months earlier after a bitter internal leadership struggle, could also scupper any immediate prospect of peace talks. "I can say with good authority that Mullah Mansour is no more," a senior Taliban source told AFP. Mansour's death, which risks igniting new succession battles within the fractious group, was confirmed by two other senior figures who said its top leaders were gathering in Quetta to name their future chief.


Taliban truck bomb in Kabul kills 30 as spring offensive kicks in

The Japan Times

KABUL – Thirty people were killed and hundreds wounded when a Taliban truck bomb tore through central Kabul and a fierce firefight broke out Tuesday, one week after the insurgents launched their annual spring offensive. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a densely crowded neighborhood, which sent clouds of acrid smoke billowing into the sky and rattled windows several miles away. The brazen assault near the defense ministry marks the first major Taliban attack in the Afghan capital since the insurgents announced the start of this year's fighting season. "One of the suicide attackers blew up an explosives-laden truck in a public parking lot next to a government building," Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told reporters. "The second attacker engaged security forces in a gun battle before being gunned down."


Pentagon disciplines 16 for deadly attack on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan

Los Angeles Times

The Pentagon has disciplined 16 service members for mistakes that led to the deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last fall, but no one will face criminal charges, The Times has learned. The punishments follow a six-month Pentagon investigation into the disastrous Oct. 3 attack, which killed 42 medical staff, patients and other Afghans, and wounded dozens more at the international humanitarian aid group's trauma center in Kunduz. The 16 found at fault include a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 attack aircraft, and Army special forces personnel, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal investigation. One officer was suspended from command and ordered out of Afghanistan. The other 15 were given lesser punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses.


Pakistan Plans Offensive After 70 Killed in Park Bombing

U.S. News

A Pakistani police commando walks at site of the suicide bombing on Monday in Lahore, Pakistan. The Pakistani government said Monday it will launch a series of counterterrorism raids in response to a terror attack that targeted Christians on Easter Sunday, killing at least 70 people and wounding more than 300 at a popular park in the eastern city of Lahore. A Pakistani faction of the Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, which mostly killed women and children at the Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park. The breakaway extremist group known as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said it was specifically targeting Christians though most of those killed in the attack were Muslims. The group has previously claimed it is allied with the Islamic State group.


'My life is destroyed': Afghans suffer in battle for northern city of Kunduz

Los Angeles Times

Hours before a mortar round struck his house on the outskirts of Afghanistan's northern city of Kunduz, Nasim, a 48-year-old fruit seller, got a call from his wife. "She asked me not to come home," said Nasim, who has only one name. She was worried that he would be captured by Taliban insurgents who had seized the area and were mounting a push to retake Kunduz. Nasim did not see her again. The mortar that crashed into their house this week killed his wife, Zarimah, a mother of 10. "My life is destroyed," Nasim said by phone from Kunduz.