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Driver's family sue over deadly drone strike on Taliban chief

The family of the driver who died in the US drone attack on Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in Pakistan have registered a case against the US. Mohammad Azam was an innocent victim, according to his family.

Pakistani police said a case against unknown US officials has been registered with a view to pressing murder charges over the drone strike which killed the Taliban leader and his driver, Mohammad Azam, near the town of Ahmad Wal in southwest Pakistan on May 21.

Azam's family say he was innocent, employed by the Al Habib rental company based out of Quetta, and the sole breadwinner for his family of four children. US officials had described him as a "second male combatant."

Azam's brother Mohammad Qasim said: "US officials whose name I do not know

accepted the responsibility in media

for this incident, so I want justice and request legal action against those responsible for it," Qasim said in a police report dated May 25.

"My brother was innocent and he was very poor who has left behind four small children and he was the lone bread earner in the family," he added.

Pakistani officials on Sunday confirmed the charges had been filed, but declined to comment on what steps, if any, authorities would take to pursue the case.

New Taliban leadership

Mansour was the acknowledged head of the Taliban for less than a year after taking over from the group's founder Mullah Omar. Omar was proclaimed dead in the summer of 2015 but had actually died several years earlier while Mansour, a wealthy drug-smuggler, had run the organization. Mansour's deputy, Mullah

Haibatullah Akhundzada, was named as his replacement

last week.

Haibatullah is a former Taliban chief justice and heads their religious Ulema council. Compared with Mansoor, he has strong religious credentials, and has been responsible for issuing fatwas to justify military and terrorist operations.

Pakistan's military issued a press statement last week saying that in a meeting with the US ambassador, army chief Raheel Sharif expressed "serious concern" over the drone strike which killed Mansoor and his driver. "Such acts of sovereignty violations are detrimental to relations between both countries and are counter-productive for ongoing peace process for regional stability," Sharif said.

Pakistani authorities are believed to support Taliban leaders in Afghan cities. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has accused Pakistan of using the Taliban to wage war on his country. Pakistan denies the accusations.

jm/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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