Afghan Interior and Defense Ministries and local officials of southern Helmand province on Monday said the war status in the south of Afghanistan will change, following the killing of Mullah Mohammad Rahim Mannan, head of Taliban’s military commission and Taliban’s designated governor for Helmand.
Mullah Mohammad Rahim Mannan, also known as Mullah Abdulmannan Akhund, was killed on Saturday in Helmand’s Nawzad district in a drone strike.
Mannan was killed along with four other Taliban members, including two of his spokesmen, who were with him at the time of the strike.
A day after Mannan’s killing, the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan released footage which shows a Taliban center bombed by foreign forces in a drone strike in Sangin district in Helmand province. Resolute Support said 29 Taliban members were killed in the strike.
Now Afghan military officials say Mannan’s loss will affect the war in the south of Afghanistan.
“He was a key commander in the south and south-east of the country and was involved in most offensives and insecurities in Helmand and neighboring provinces,” Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.
“He was also a drug smuggler. He was involved in insecurities in Helmand, Farah, Nimroz and Kandahar provinces,” Defense Ministry spokesman Ghafoor Ahmad Jawed said.
“In terms of the military, when a commander or leader is killed in an area, the group definitely will be affected negatively,” MP Khalilullah Shahidzada said.
Helmand local officials also said Mannan was one of the most influential and important commanders of the Taliban in the south of Afghanistan, who in addition to insurgency activities, was involved in drugs’ production and smuggling.
According to officials, he was shadow governor for Helmand province for eight years, and in recent years there were rumors he made decisions independently, without consulting other Taliban commanders.
“He had established a gang for himself and the group was busy collecting illegal money and smuggling drugs,” Mohammad Yasin, governor of Helmand said.
“He was a big drugs' smuggler and he was earning money from this,” Majid Akhundzada, a member of Helmand provincial council said.
While efforts on reaching a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government have been ongoing for many years and recently have been accelerated, officials from the High Peace Council (HPC) in Helmand said they never were able to contact Mannan in this regard.
“We could not make any direct contact with him. The other issue is that I do not think the war will end with the death of individuals,” Helmand HPC member Ghulam Mohammad Ishaqzai said.
Although Mannan has been said to be one of the most important Taliban commanders in the south of Afghanistan, only a few pictures of him were released recently by the Taliban and there is not much information about him.
Taliban on Sunday in a statement confirmed Mannan’s killing.