Mansour and another militant were targeted in a precision air strike by multiple unmanned drones operated by US Special Operations forces yesterday as the duo rode in a vehicle in a remote area near Ahmad Wal town in the restive Baluchistan province close to the Afghan border while apparently returning from Iran, officials said.

The drone strike, which US officials said was authorised by President Barack Obama, showed America was ready to target the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, which Afghanistan has repeatedly accused of sheltering the militants.

Afghan Taliban sources later confirmed the death of Mansour, media reports said. Afghanistan's main spy agency said Mansour, said to be in his early 50s, was killed in a US drone attack that struck his vehicle on the main road in Dalbandi area of Balochistan around 3:45 pm on Saturday.

"Mansour was being closely monitored for a while until he was targeted along with other fighters aboard a vehicle in Balochistan," the National Directorate of Security said in a brief statement yesterday.

Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and defence ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri also said that Mansour had been killed.

Addressing a press conference in the Afghan capital, he called on the group to select a new leader and then come to Kabul and act like a political party.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's government said that the drone strike was a violation of its sovereignty.

The passenger thought to be Mansour had a passport under the name Wali Muhammad and was returning from Iran, Pakistan Foreign Office said. He had yet to be formally identified, it said.

Speaking to reporters in the Myanmar capital Naypyidaw, US Secretary of State John Kerry said, "Mansour posed... an imminent threat to US personnel, Afghan civilians and Afghan security forces."

Kerry said Mansour was also directly opposed to peace negotiations.     The US "has long maintained that an Afghan-led,

Afghan-owned reconciliation process is the surest way to ensure peace... peace is what we want, Mansour was a threat to that," Kerry said.

"If people want to stand in the way of peace and continue to threaten and kill and blow people up, we have no recourse but to respond and I think we responded appropriately," he said.

Latest News from World News Desk