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Taliban names Mansour's deputy Haibatullah Akhundzada as new leader

The Taliban in Afghanistan has confirmed the death of its former leader, Mullah Akhtar Mansour. Taliban leaders have also elected his successor, an influential religious figure.

Akhundzada was named leader after an "unanimous agreement in the shura (supreme council), and all the members of shura pledged allegiance to him," the jihadist militia said in a statement on Wednesday.

"All people are required to obey the new Emir-al-Momineen (commander of the faithful)," the statement said.

The Taliban also acknowledged that its previous leader Mansour had been killed when his vehicle was

hit by a US drone in Pakistan.

New attack in Kabul

The new leader Akhundzada served as one of Mansour's deputies. Among the Taliban, Akhundzada is also known as a religious scholar who has written public statements justifying the organization's existence and its fight against the government and the foreign forces in Afghanistan.

He also formerly served as head of the judiciary among the jihadists. There is speculation as to whether he will continue in the footsteps of

bellicose Mansour.

In the Wednesday statement, the Taliban said it had appointed two deputies to Akhundzada, both of them previously rumored as contenders for the top job. One of the deputies is

hardliner Sirajuddin Haqqani

, head of a network blamed for many deadly blasts in Kabul, who also acted as deputy to Mansour. The other is Mullah Yaqoub, son of Mansour's predecessor and Taliban founder, Mullah Omar.

Also on Wednesday, a suicide bomber targeted a vehicle in Kabul, killing 10 people. The vehicle was carrying court employees to work during morning rush hour. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

dj/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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