Senior Taliban Figure Says Death of Leader Could Unify Group

A Pakistani police officer and paramedics stand beside two dead bodies reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Ahmad Wal area in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)
A Pakistani police officer and paramedics stand beside two dead bodies reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Ahmad Wal area in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, at a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

KABUL, Afghanistan — A senior Afghan Taliban figure says the death of their leader in a U.S. drone strike last week could make the movement stronger and unify their ranks.

Mullah Mohammad Ghous, a foreign minister during the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, says Mullah Akhtar Mansour's death clears the way for those who left after he became leader to return to the insurgency.

Mansour was killed Saturday in the strike in southwestern Pakistan. His death has been confirmed by some senior Taliban members, as well as Washington and Kabul.

Mansour had led the Taliban since last summer, when the death of founder Mullah Mohammad Omar became public. When he took over, some detractors formed rival factions and fought Mansour's men for land, mostly in the opium poppy-growing southern Taliban heartland.

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