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Mullah Akhtar Mansour

Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, (Mullah Mansour), Afghan militant (born 1968?, Band-e-Timor?, Kandahar province, Afg.—died May 21, 2016, Baluchistan province, Pak.), was the head of the political and religious faction known as the Taliban in Afghanistan for three years (2013–16) until he was killed in a U.S. drone strike.

Mansour received his early religious training at a local madrasah and his secular education at a village school, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Afghan War (1978–92). By the mid-1980s he had joined a mujahideen rebel group; he reportedly was wounded more than once while fighting against the Soviet invasion (1979) and the Afghan communist government. The Taliban, which was founded about 1994 by Mullah Mohammad Omar, eventually won control over most of the country. Mullah Mansour served as the minister of aviation in the Taliban-backed Islamic government (1996–2001) led by Mullah Omar.

Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the Taliban was driven from power, though Mullah Omar and Mullah Mansour continued to supervise a Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan from exile in an unknown location that was thought to be in Pakistan. In July 2015 it was officially revealed that Mullah Omar had died in April 2013 and that Mullah Mansour, who had been the Taliban’s deputy leader since 2007, had been serving as his unofficial successor. In the wake of that announcement, Mansour was officially confirmed as leader.

Taliban reject reports of secret talks with Afghanistan

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban on Wednesday rejected reports of secret meetings with the Afghan government in a bid to resume long-stalled peace negotiations, insisting that their hardline policy remains unchanged. Afghan officials on Tuesday said they held two meetings since September in Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office, after the news was first reported by Britain's The Guardian newspaper. But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement rejected any reports of talks or meetings. Mohammad…