Top Taliban commander killed by US airstrike in Afghanistan, say Taliban
Dec 02, 2018 (Agencia EFE via COMTEX) —
Islamabad, Pakistan, Dec 2 (efe-epa).- A top Taliban leader was killed in what is believed to have been a United States airstrike in Afghanistan, according to Taliban officials, just as Washington was in delicate peace talks with the insurgent movement, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report made available to EFE on Sunday.
Abdul Manan was the Taliban “shadow governor” for Helmand province in the south, a key territory for the group, which also gave him control over a large part of the group’s finances.
Helmand is the center of the country’s drug trade, and the Taliban tax the drugs business.
Manan’s death on Saturday was confirmed by three Taliban officials.
His death would be the biggest loss for the Taliban since 2016 when the group’s leader, Akhtar Mansour, was killed in a US drone strike in western Pakistan.
The killing of Mansour sank the prospects for peace talks at the time, as the Taliban resented the loss of its chief.
The airstrike was near the town of Sangeen in Helmand on Saturday night, Taliban sources said.
Manan was one of the most influential figures in the Taliban, considered a hardliner.
His hold over the drugs business gave him an independent voice within the Taliban hierarchy.
He was considered the force behind the Taliban’s success in Helmand.
The Taliban’s firm hold on Helmand allowed more members of the movement to travel into Afghanistan from their base in Pakistan.
The spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said he was checking the reports.
Army Col. David Butler, the spokesman for US-led international forces in Afghanistan, said the US was “looking closely into reports” that Manan had been killed in an airstrike.