Kabul, Afghanistan (BBN)-The Afghan Taliban have announced a new leader to replace Mullah Akhtar Mansour who was killed in a US drone strike.
In a statement, the Taliban acknowledged Mansour’s death for the first time and named his successor as Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, reports BBC.
Mansour was killed in a strike on his car in Pakistan’s Balochistan province on Saturday.
He took over the militant group in July 2015, replacing Taliban founder and spiritual head Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Separately on Wednesday, 10 people were killed and four injured in a suicide attack that hit a bus carrying court employees in Kabul, government officials told the BBC.
Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada, a religious scholar and former head of the Taliban courts, was one of the Afghan Taliban’s deputy leaders.
What we know about Haibatullah Akhundzada
He is more of a religious leader than a military commander, and has been responsible for issuing most of Taliban’s fatwas
He is between 45 and 50 years of age and has lived most of his life inside Afghanistan, with little evidence of travel
However, experts say, he maintained close links with the so-called Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban leaders said to be based in the Pakistani city of Quetta
From southern Kandahar Province, he belongs to the Eshaqzai clan, though some sources say he is from the Alokozai Pashtun clan
“Haibatullah Akhundzada has been appointed as the new leader of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) after a unanimous agreement in the shura (supreme council), and all the members of shura pledged allegiance to him,” the Taliban said in a statement.
It also said that Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of Mullah Omar, would become a joint deputy head of the movement, alongside current deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani.
The US and Afghan governments have said Mansour was an obstacle to the thorny peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities. Indeed under his stewardship militant attacks escalated and became more daring.
However, little is known of the direction the new leader is likely to take the militant group.