Afghan Government Says U.S. Drone Strike Killed Taliban Leader
Posted: May 23, 2016
??Updated 1:50 a.m. ET Monday:
??President Obama, in Vietnam as part of a 10-day trip to Asia, said the death of Taliban leader Mansour, is a milestone in U.S. efforts "to bring peace and prosperity to Afghanistan."
??In a statement, the president said:
??With the death of Taliban leader Akhtar Mohammad Mansur, we have removed the leader of an organization that has continued to plot against and unleash attacks on American and Coalition forces, to wage war against the Afghan people, and align itself with extremist groups like al Qa'ida.
??Taliban leader Mullah Mansour.
??Rahmat Gul/APMansur 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. The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict - joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability.
??As an enduring partner of the Afghan people, the United States will continue to help strengthen Afghan security forces and support President Ghani and the National Unity Government in their efforts to forge the peace and progress that Afghans deserve. We will continue taking action against extremist networks that target the United States. We will work on shared objectives with Pakistan, where terrorists that threaten all our nations must be denied safe haven. After so many years of conflict, today gives the people of Afghanistan and the region a chance at a different, better future.
??I thank our dedicated military and intelligence personnel who have once again sent a clear message to all those who target our people and our partners - you will have no safe haven. Today is a day for us to give thanks to all of the Americans who have served in Afghanistan for so many years with a selfless commitment to the security of our nation and a better future for the Afghan people.
??The Pentagon says it targeted the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, with multiple drone strikes.
??Now, as NPR's Tom Bowman reports from Afghanistan, there are conflicting reports of whether the attack killed Mansour: "The Taliban has not confirmed the death. The Afghan intelligence agency says he is dead. And the Americans, for their part, are saying they're still assessing the results of this attack."
??You can listen to Tom's full report here:www.graziaaustralia.com
??Afghan Government Says U.S. Drone Strike Killed Taliban LeaderListen· 3:10Queue
??Photos released from the scene of the apparent attack show smoke rising from a smoldering vehicle and what appear to be bodies wrapped in brown cloth.
??Both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah hailed the news of Mansour's apparent death, The Associated Press reports. Mansour was "the main figure preventing the Taliban joining the peace process," Abdullah said, according to the wire service.
??As Tom reports on Weekend Edition Sunday, the Pentagon says "there were multiple drones involved in this mission by the American special operations forces, and it was authorized by President Obama." He says it happened in Pakistan, near the city of Quetta. That's not far from Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.
??Pakistan has expressed frustration at the attack in its territory.
??"While further investigations are being carried out, drone attack was a violation of its sovereignty, an issue which has been raised with the United States in the past as well," Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
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