Pakistan confirms drone strike, remains vague about Mansoor’s death

Islamabad: Pakistan late on Sunday confirmed that two people were killed in a US drone strike on Saturday in its remote area along the Pakistan-Afghan border, but remained vague about the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansoors death in the strike.

A statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that the US informed the Pakistani Prime Minister and the Pakistani Army Chief about the drone strike late Saturday after the strike was carried out.

It confirmed two people were killed in the strike. However, the statement did not confirm Mullah Mansoor’s death.

“Late Saturday May 21, 2016, the US shared information that a drone strike was carried out in Pakistan near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, in which reportedly the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was targeted,” said the statement.

A driver named Muhammad Azam and a man named Wali Muhammad were killed in the strike, said the statement, adding that the identity of the driver has been confirmed and his body has been collected by his relatives while the identity of the second body was still being verified.

According to the statement, the man named Wali Muhammad carried a Pakistani passport and an ID card showing he was a resident of Qilla Abdullah, a district in Balochistan province where the US launched in the strike.

He entered Pakistan from Iran through the border city of Taftan on Saturday with a valid Iranian visa on his passport. He was travelling on a vehicle hired from a transport company in Taftan. This vehicle was found destroyed at Kochaki along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, said the statement.

Shortly after the statement was issued by Pakistan Foreign Office, local media quoted Paksitan Interior Ministry as saying that the passport carried by Wali Muhammad was fake and the ministry had formed a five-member team to investigate into the issue as from where he got the fake passport.

Local media reported that the picture of the man carrying the fake passport had a great resemblance with Mullah Mansoor.

According to local media’s reports, the Pakistani government was facing problem to get DNA samples from someone of Mullah Mansoor’s family to identify the body of Wali Muhammad and once the DNA samples of Mullah Mansoor’s relatives are obtained, the test will be conducted either in Islamabad or in Karachi.

In the statement, the Pakistan Foreign Office also protested against the US drone strike on its territory as it violated its sovereignty. It also called on the Taliban to give up violence and join the peace talks.