Officials claim man killed in drone strike has just returned from Iran when his vehicle was targeted.
The man killed by a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan and believed to be Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour had just returned from Iran when his vehicle was struck, security officials told AFP Sunday.
The driver, who also died in Saturday’s attack, was a civilian who worked for a local rental company, according to the officials, contradicting the U.S. account that he was a “second combatant.” The U.S. late Saturday said Mansour was “likely killed” in the attack in Balochistan province. Afghanistan’s spy agency said Sunday that Mansour was dead. Some sources within the Taliban have confirmed the death, but Pakistan has yet to verify the claims.
Pakistani I.D. documents found on the alleged militant leader could shed light on the degree of official support he received in the country. His passport showed he had left for Iran on March 28 and returned the day he was killed. “He was returning from Iran when he was hit by a drone strike near the town of Ahmad Wal,” one security official said. He added that the driver, Muhammad Azim, worked for the Al Habib car rental company based out of Quetta.
An immigration official at the border town of Taftan confirmed the man’s travel dates, adding that he was carrying euros when he entered Pakistan which he then converted to Pakistani rupees.
A passport and I.D. card recovered from the scene, photographs of which were seen by AFP, gave the man’s name as Muhammad Wali, a resident of Killa Abdullah district of Balochistan, born on Jan. 1, 1972. The second address listed on his I.D. card was in Karachi. The photographs on both documents both closely resemble known photographs of Mullah Mansour.
It was not immediately clear whether the documents were counterfeit or genuine.
In March Pakistan’s top foreign policy official Sartaj Aziz confirmed for the first time that Islamabad was providing shelter and support to the Afghan Taliban leadership, in order to exert influence. The two corpses were later brought to the Civil Hospital in Quetta, where they were handed over to relatives after autopsies.
A hospital source said both were badly burnt and the corpse of the man named as Muhammad Wali was charred beyond recognition. The source said there was a “huge difference” between the way the bodies were treated.
“A youth who gave his name as Muhammad Rafiq and said he was the nephew of Muhammad Wali came with some plainclothes intelligence officials and demanded that the body be immediately handed over to him. The examination was done in no time and the body was taken away, while no one asked the nephew to prove his I.D.,” the source added.