NAYPYITAW (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour posed a “continuing imminent threat” to U.S. personnel in Afghanistan and to Afghans, and was a threat to peace.
U.S. officials in Washington said on Saturday U.S. missile-firing drones had attacked Mansour and probably killed him in a strike in southwest Pakistan, near the Afghan border, authorised by U.S. President Barack Obama.
“Yesterday, the United States conducted a precision air strike that targeted Taliban leader Mullah Mansour in a remote area of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Mansour posed a continuing, imminent threat” to U.S. personnel and Afghans, Kerry told a news conference in the Myanmar capital.
“This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.”
Kerry said the leaders of both Pakistan and Afghanistan were notified of the air strike but he declined to elaborate on the timing of the notifications, which he said included a telephone call from him to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort and to bringing an end to the violence and suffering people of Afghanistan have endured for so many years now. He was also directly opposed to the peace negotiation and to the reconciliation process,” Kerry said.
Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Robert Birsel