NAYPYIDAW (MYANMAR): Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was targeted by US drone strikes because he posed a “threat” to US troops, Afghan civilians and peace talks, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday on a visit to Myanmar.
The US said Saturday’s strikes hit a vehicle carrying Mansour and a second passenger in Pakistan’s remote southwestern province of Balochistan bordering Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters in the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw Kerry outlined the reasons for the strikes. “Mansour posed… an imminent threat to US personnel, Afghan civilians and Afghan security forces,” he told reporters, adding “he was also directly opposed to peace negotiations.”
The US “has long maintained that an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned reconciliation process is the surest way to ensure peace… peace is what we want, Mansour was a threat to that,” Kerry added.
The Taliban have so far not commented on the American strike or confirmed Mansour’s death. He had been appointed leader last July.
The drone attack came just days after US, Chinese, Pakistani and Afghan officials held a fresh round of talks in Islamabad aimed at restarting the stalled peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.