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Senior Taliban figure says death of leader could unify group

  • A Pakistani police officer and paramedics stand beside two dead bodies reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Ahmad Wal area in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, at a hopsital in Quetta, Pakistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. A senior commander of the Afghan Taliban confirmed on Sunday that the extremist group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, had been killed in the strike. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)

    A Pakistani police officer and paramedics stand beside two dead bodies reportedly killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Ahmad Wal area in Baluchistan province, Pakistan, at a hopsital in Quetta, Pakistan, Sunday, May 22, 2016. A senior commander of the Afghan Taliban confirmed on Sunday that the extremist group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, had been killed in the strike. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo taken by freelance photographer Abdul Malik on Saturday, May 21, 2016, purports to show volunteers standing next to a dead body by the destroyed vehicle, in which Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour was allegedly traveling in the Ahmed Wal area in Baluchistan province of Pakistan, near Afghanistan border. A senior commander of the Afghan Taliban confirmed on Sunday that the extremest group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, has been killed in a U.S. drone strike. (AP Photo/Abdul Malik)

    This photo taken by freelance photographer Abdul Malik on Saturday, May 21, 2016, purports to show volunteers standing next to a dead body by the destroyed vehicle, in which Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour was allegedly traveling in the Ahmed Wal area in Baluchistan province of Pakistan, near Afghanistan border. A senior commander of the Afghan Taliban confirmed on Sunday that the extremest group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Akhtar Mansour, has been killed in a U.S. drone strike. (AP Photo/Abdul Malik)  (The Associated Press)

A senior Afghan Taliban figure says the death of their leader in a U.S. drone strike last week could make the movement stronger and unify their ranks.

Mullah Mohammad Ghous, a foreign minister during the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule of Afghanistan, says Mullah Akhtar Mansour's death clears the way for those who left after he became leader to return to the insurgency.

Mansour was killed Saturday in the strike in southwestern Pakistan. His death has been confirmed by some senior Taliban members, as well as Washington and Kabul.

Mansour had led the Taliban since last summer, when the death of founder Mullah Mohammad Omar became public. When he took over, some detractors formed rival factions and fought Mansour's men for land, mostly in the opium poppy-growing southern Taliban heartland.