Senior Afghan Taliban sources today confirmed the death of their chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a US drone strike.
"I can say with good authority that Mullah Mansour is no more," a senior Taliban source told AFP.
Mullah Mansour's death was confirmed by two other senior figures, who said the group's top leaders were gathering in southwest Pakistan to name their future chief.
Who was Mullah Akhtar Mansour?
Mullah Mansour was officially appointed as the Taliban chief in July 2015, after the death of Mullah Omar. However, it is believed that Mullah Mansour functioned as the acting head of the terror organisation, way before his appointment, on behalf of Mullah Omar.
Mullah Omar, who led the Taliban for around 20 years, reportedly died in a hospital in Karachi on April 23, 2013. Information of his death, however, was leaked only after a month, which was then confirmed by the Taliban much later.
In the interim, Mullah Mansour reportedly continued to release statements on the official Taliban website in the name of Mullah Omar.
Speaking about the slain Taliban leader, General Joseph Votel of US Central Command in a statement to CNN said, “Mansour played a key leadership role in not only orchestrating the Taliban but orchestrating a variety of other organisations to include the Haqqani Network and al Qaeda who were perpetrating operations against not only US forces but coalition forces and Afghan forces for a long period of time.”
Rise to the top
Mullah Mansour’s appointment as the Taliban leader was met with a lot of resistance, with senior Taliban officials opposing his nomination, as they launched a parallel council.
The dissidents were quoted as saying that they would convene a meeting of the council members, Islamic scholars and national figures to elect a new chief.
Besides senior officials, Mullah Omar’s family also refused to to pledge allegiance to Mullah Mansour.
Mullah Abdullah Mannan, the younger brother of Mullah Omar's younger brother - in an audio message recorded in the Pashto language - demanded a council meeting of pro-Taliban clerics and militant commanders, so that they could deliberate and resolve the challenge of leadership facing the group.
These challenges, however, eased in time and Mullah Mansour climbed to the top command position within the group.
Taliban under Mullah Mansour's rule
Mullah Mansour's rule saw several devastating attacks in Afghanistan, particularly the capital Kabul. It was also during Mansour's brief rule that the Taliban, albeit briefly, took control of the northern city of Kunduz and held it for four days.
A look at some recent attacks:
May 25, 2015: The Taliban launches a deadly attack on Afghan Security forces in southern Helmand province, killing 19 police and seven soldiers.
June 13, 2015: The Taliban attacks another Afghan security outpost in southern Helmand province, killing 11 security personnel.
June 22, 2015: The Taliban launches a coordinated assault outside the Afghan Parliament in the capital, Kabul. A vehicle packed with explosives blows up outside the Parliament gates and six Taliban armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket propelled grenade launchers lay siege until they were killed by Afghan Security Forces. Two civilians are reportedly killed and several others are injured.
July 7, 2015: The Taliban stages two separate suicide bombings in Kabul, killing at least one person and wounding three, including a NATO soldier.
August 7, 2015: A series of attacks kill at least 44 people and wound over 300 in one day in Kabul.
August 22, 2015: A suicide bomber attacks a convoy in Kabul, killing four US contractors.
September 14, 2015: More than 350 inmates escape after an attack by Taliban insurgents on the main prison in eastern Ghazni province.
October 2015: The Taliban stages a coordinated strike on Kunduz, surrounding the city, forcing Afghan government forces out and taking control of the city. It is the first time the Taliban took an Afghan city since being ousted from power in 2001. The Taliban holds on to the city for four days, eventually being driven out by Afghan Security Forces backed by US air strikes.
January 5, 2016: A U.S soldier is killed and another two injured in battle in Helmand province between Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban.
February 1, 2016: A suicide bomber detonates his explosives outside an Afghan Civil Police building, killing at least 20 people.
March 2, 2016: The Taliban attack the Indian Consulate in eastern Jalalabad, killing four Afghans. No Indian nationals are hurt
April 19, 2016: In one of the deadliest attacks on Kabul, a suicide bomber backed by heavily armed militants kills 64 people and wounds hundreds more.