This photo taken by a freelance photographer Abdul Salam Khan using his smart phone on Sunday, May 22, 2016, purports to show the destroyed vehicle in which Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour was traveling in the Ahmad Wal area in Baluchistan province of Pakistan, near Afghanistan's border. A senior commander of the Afghan Taliban confirmed on Sunday that the extremist group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, has been killed in a U.S. drone strike.
Every year during the two Eid holidays, hundreds of men, women and children from all over Afghanistan line up outside Hamid Karzai's house, hoping to meet the former Afghan president. For those six days on the Islamic calendar, Karzai is the embodiment of the elder statesman -- the first modern Afghan leader to play such a role after decades of war, assassinations and political instability. Freed from 13 turbulent years in office, Karzai is viewed by many Afghans as a sociable and engaging father figure. He poses for pictures with visitors, shakes hands and asks the children about their hopes for their future. The warmth he displays now is a sharp departure from his successor, President Ashraf Ghani, often described as a temperamental intellectual who has been shackled by an economic downturn, an unemployment rate estimated at 40%, rising civilian casualties and a resurgent Taliban-led militancy.
The Afghan Taliban have named a deputy to former leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour as their new leader, a spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday, the group's first official confirmation that Mansour was killed in a U.S. drone strike. Haibatullah Akhunzada, who was named in a United Nations report last year as the Taliban's former chief justice, is reported to be a respected religious scholar but little is known of his background. Sirajuddin Haqqani, head of a network blamed for many high-profile bombs attacks in Kabul in recent years, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of former leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, will serve as deputies, Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban's main spokesman, said in the statement. "All people are required to obey the new Emir-al-Momineen (commander of the faithful)," the statement said. The announcement, following a meeting of the Taliban's main shura or leadership council, ends three days of confusion during which the Islamist movement had provided no official reaction to the death of Mansour in a drone strike in Pakistan on Saturday.
The Afghan government and a senior Taliban commander confirmed Sunday that the extremist group's leader, Mullah Mohammed Akhtar Mansour, has been killed in a U.S. drone strike. Ahead of the official confirmation of Mansour's death, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Myanmar Sunday, repeatedly referred to him in the past tense. Mansour, Mullah Omar's deputy, concealed the Taliban founder's death for more than two years, and ran the Taliban in his name until the death was revealed by the Afghan government. He controls the Taliban's military commissions in 15 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces and, like Rauf, recently reconciled with Mansour.
Three American troops have been wounded after an Afghan soldier opened fire on them at a base in the southern province of Helmand, the NATO-led Resolute Support mission said, as separate attacks and clashes across the country left dozens dead. A spokesman for the Afghan military in the south of the country said the Afghan special forces soldier was shot dead after firing at the Americans at Camp Shorab air base on Sunday. "The guard lost his life in exchange of fire," Mohammad Rasoul Zazai told Reuters. The soldiers are receiving medical care, the NATO-led training and assistance mission said on Twitter. So-called "green-on-blue" insider attacks by Afghan soldiers on international service members were a major problem several years ago, but now occur less frequently after security measures were improved and the number of foreign troops in the country fell sharply.