Mullah Akhtar Mansour has ruled the Afghan Taliban since last year. Now the Pentagon says a series of drone strikes near the Pakistani town of Ahmad Wal have presumably killed the leader.
Taliban attacks on checkpoints in the Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Farah have left dozens of security personnel dead. The night-time assaults coincide with a survey showing Afghans deeply worried about their safety.
Fifteen cadets have died in the second deadly suicide bomb attack in the capital, Kabul, within 24 hours. An attack on a mosque on Friday evening claimed at least 56 lives and injured some 55 more.
The secretary of state made a short visit to Afghanistan to discuss the new US policy in South Asia. He told Afghan leaders he was open to peace with the Taliban if they accepted military defeat.
Although US President Donald Trump has appreciated Pakistan's efforts in securing the release of a US-Canadian couple, experts say it is yet to be seen whether Islamabad is serious about defeating Islamists.
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