Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor: Taliban fighters 'worried and confused' after death of leader

The terrorist group says new leader Mohammad Akhtar Mansoor was a 'trusted' deputy of his predecessor

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The Independent Online

The Afghan Taliban has sought to quell divisions within the group following confirmation of the death of its former leader.

A statement released by the group on Friday described Akhtar Mohammad Mansour as one of the most “trusted” associates of the late leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

According to the group, Mansoor had been an “active director” of jihad for at least three years and had been serving as Omar’s deputy before he died.

Mullah Omar was made the 'Supreme Leader' of the Taliban movement in 1998 (EPA)

The Taliban confirmed rumours that their former chief had died of an illness and said they had elected Mansoor as his successor on Thursday.

The group claims Mansoor has the loyalty of its battlefield commanders, who have intensified their attacks against Kabul in recent months - but local commanders have expressed confusion over who to follow.

A border policeman told the Independent that district commanders in his region were unsure who to follow: “They don’t know who their leaders are.

“The Taliban are worried and confused. They are not fighting they are just talking on the radio.”

Mansoor is seen as being close to Pakistan, which is believed to have sheltered and supported the insurgents since they were first ousted in 2001.

The Taliban pulled out a planned peace talks which were scheduled to take place on Friday in what is believed to be a response to the government’s statement about their leader.

It comes as attacks against Afghan officials and armed forces have intensified since Nato combat troops pulled out of the country at the end of last year.

At least nine months ago senior commanders within the Taliban were reported to know about Omar’s death and two – Mullah Mansour Dadullah and Mullah Abdul Qayum Zakir – wrote letters, intercepted by Afghan intelligence officers and seen by the Independent, which urged members to rebel against Mansour.

Additional reporting by AP