Afghanistan’s spy agency has confirmed that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour has been killed, after the US targeted him in a drone strike.
The drone targeted his vehicle in a remote area of south-west Pakistan, near the Afghan border, on Saturday.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said Mansour has posed “a continuing, imminent threat to US personnel”.
Mansour assumed the leadership in July 2015, replacing Taliban founder and spiritual head Mullah Mohammad Omar.
The Afghan National Security Directorate (NDS) confirmed on Sunday that Mansour had been killed in the Dalbandi area of Balochistan province – the first official confirmation of the killing of the Taliban leader.
n Saturday the Pentagon said the operation had taken place near the town of Ahmad Wal at around 15:00 (10:00 GMT) on Saturday and had been authorised by President Barack Obama.
It said the strike had “probably” killed Mansour and an armed male combatant travelling with him.
There have been conflicting reports from the Taliban.
Senior commander Mullah Abdul Rauf told Associated Press that Mansour had been killed, but that it was late on Friday.
Other reports denied his death. One unnamed Taliban commander told Reuters: “We heard about these baseless reports, but this not first time. Just wanted to share with you my own information that Mullah Mansour has not been killed.”
False rumours have often surrounded Taliban leaders.
Mr Kerry, on a visit to Myanmar, said: “This action sends a clear message to the world that we will continue to stand with our Afghan partners as they work to build a more stable, united, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.
“Peace is what we want. Mansour was a threat to that effort.”
A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said: “Our hope in the wake of the strike is for the Afghan-led peace process to bring lasting peace and stability.”
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Mansour had been “the main figure preventing the Taliban joining the peace process”.