US Embassy in Kabul says it continues to receive reports of militants planning unspecified attacks in Kabul City and elsewhere in Afghanistan against locations, individuals with potential American connections
Editor's note: We are watching for more information on what may be a new recording from Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Afghan Taliban's newly-appointed leader. Reuters has an unverified audio recording provided by the group's official spokesperson in which Akhundzada is reported to say the Taliban won't return to peace talks with the Afghan government. However, Radio Free Europe reporter @QadirHabib reports the Taliban spokesperson has denied the Reuters report in an email. - Tricia
NATO Secretary General on death of Taliban leader: 'Under Mullah Mansur's leadership, the Taliban have continued to conduct brutal attacks across Afghanistan, leading to the death and suffering of countless Afghan civilians and security forces, and posing a major daily threat to the forces of the US and other NATO Allies and partners'
Editor's note: Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security spy agency tweets on Mansour: 'Taliban leader is killed yesterday in a air strike in Dalbandine, Balouchistan, Pakistan.' but provided no further details on sourcing. There has been no confirmation of his death from President Ghani or from the US military. - David
Editor's note: US Secretary of State John Kerry just held a news conference in Myanmar where he spoke about the drone strike on Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour. Kerry did not explicitly confirm reports that the militant group's leader had been killed, but did refer to him in the past tense. We're awaiting further details. - David
Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, R-Tenn., on drone strike against Afghan Taliban leader: 'If verified, the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour would be an important victory in the fight against terror and welcome news to our military personnel in Afghanistan and the Afghan government... I am thankful for the work our military and intelligence communities are doing to bring justice to those responsible for spreading evil. If Pakistan would play a more constructive role, we could destabilize the Taliban far more rapidly' - NBC News
Editor's note: Reuters, citing an unnamed US official, reports the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mansour was 'likely' killed in a drone strike. So far, that has not yet been reported on the record. - Tom
Afghanistan/æfˈɡænᵻstæn/ (Pashto/Dari: افغانستان, Afġānistān), officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located within South Asia and Central Asia. It has a population of approximately 32 million, making it the 42nd most populous country in the world. It is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and China in the far northeast. Its territory covers 652,000 km2 (252,000 sq mi), making it the 41st largest country in the world.
Human habitation in Afghanistan dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Era, and the country's strategic location along the Silk Road connected it to the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia. Through the ages the land has been home to various peoples and witnessed numerous military campaigns; notably by Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviet Russians, and in the modern-era by Western powers. The land also served as the source from which the Kushans, Hephthalites, Samanids, Saffarids, Ghaznavids, Ghorids, Khiljis, Mughals, Hotaks, Durranis, and others have risen to form major empires.
The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan began with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in the 18th century. In the late 19th century, Afghanistan became a buffer state in the "Great Game" between British India and the Russian Empire. Following the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919, King Amanullah unsuccessfully attempted to modernize the country. It remained peaceful during Zahir Shah's forty years of monarchy. A series of coups in the 1970s was followed by a series of civil wars that devastated much of Afghanistan. This was followed by the recent $100 billion nationwide rebuilding process.