Four days after the death of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhter Mansour, the militant organisation has issued a statement not only officially confirming that he had been killed in a US drone strike but also announcing the name of Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzada as their new leader.
Akhunzada previously served as the deputy chief to Mansour and also headed a judiciary wing of the Taliban.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of Haqqani Group, and Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, son of the former Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar have been appointed as deputies, said Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman in the statement.
Earlier, the news of Mullah Akhter Mansour’s death by a US drone strike near Pakistan’s city Quetta was confirmed by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry.
Mullah Akhter Mansour was killed in a US drone strike on May 21 in Pakistan’s Balochistan province while he was returning from Iran.
Mansour took over as Taliban chief on July 29, 2015, replacing Mullah Mohammad Omar, the founding leader of Afghan Taliban after it was confirmed that the latter had died of natural causes in 2012.
But Pakistan has yet to confirm Mansour's death.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters on Tuesday he could not confirm that Afghan Taliban leader was killed in the drone strike and questioned Washington's justification for the attack.
"The government of Pakistan cannot announce this without a scientific and legal basis."
The minister said the body of the person is beyond recognition and cannot be identified, adding that DNA samples would be verified against a relative who had come forward to claim the body.