QUETTA: Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, believed to have been killed in a US air strike in Balochistan on Saturday, was a frequent traveller and over the past nine years used at least two Pakistani airports for his visits abroad.
Mansour was coming to Quetta from Taftan when his car came under the drone attack, killing him and his driver.
A passport and a computerised national identity card found near the burnt car bore the name of Muhammad Wali. It’s suspected that Mansour carried fake travel papers.
According to a senior official of an investigation agency, Wali frequently travelled between Karachi and Dubai, and Iran via the Pakistani border town of Taftan. He had returned to Taftan from Iran on May 21 and was killed the same day at around 3pm by the US drone in the Kochki area of Nushki district.
“Wali had a Pakistani passport and was travelling on it with a valid visa of Iran and Dubai,” the official told Dawn on condition of anonymity, adding that the passport was twice issued to him from the Quetta passport office — first in 2006 and then in October 2011, after the previous one had expired. “The passport was valid up to October 2016.”
The national identity card, too, was issued to Wali from Quetta in 2002 and after completion of its 10 years’ validity it was renewed from Karachi.
The official claimed that Wali was a frequent flyer and 70 per cent of his travel originated from Karachi airport; once he flew from Quetta airport.
He started travelling abroad on Mach 12, 2006, and flew to Dubai from Karachi airport. His last travel on March 31, 2015 was also from Karachi to Dubai.
Tehran denies man killed in drone strike entered Pakistan from Iran
“He visited Dubai 18 times using Karachi airport on valid visas and once from Quetta airport,” said a senior government official. “We have no idea what the purpose of his frequent visits to Dubai was.”
As regards his visits to Iran, he travelled to Iran twice through the Taftan border crossing.
“He first went to Iran on Feb 19, 2016, and returned to Pakistan through the Taftan border town on March 10, 2016,” the official said, adding that he again travelled to Iran on April 25 this year and returned to Pakistan through the same route on May 21.
“Wali reported at the FIA immigration checkpost at Taftan 9.7am on May 21,” he said.
Sources said that he hired a car at Taftan to travel up to Quetta. He had lunch at Padak near the Dalbandin area of Chagai district before resuming the journey. However, before reaching Quetta his car came under the drone attack.
Meanwhile, Iran on Monday denied reports that Mullah Mansour had entered Pakistan from the Islamic republic before being killed in the drone strike, adds AFP.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari was quoted by the official Irna news agency on Monday as denying Mansour had been in the country before the attack.
“The competent authorities of the Islamic republic deny that this person on this date crossed Iran’s border and into Pakistan,” he said.
“Iran welcomes any positive action leading to peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he added.
Iran supports the Afghan government in its fight against the Taliban.
The `mystery’ shrouding the identity of the man killed along with his driver in the drone attack could not be resolved till Monday evening as no one approached the authorities concerned to claim the body which was brought to the Combined Military Hospital on Sunday.
“The body is still at the CMH in Quetta and no relative has come so far,” sources said, adding that the body could not be identified because it had been charred when the car caught fire after the missile hit it.
Though US President Barack Obama and the Afghan government have claimed that the man killed along with his driver on the RCD highway was Mullah Mansour, authorities in Quetta did not confirm that the body lying at CMH was that of the Taliban chief’s.
“The government agencies and other officials are investigating the drone attack,” a spokesman for the Balochistan government said in a statement. “Immediately we cannot comment on the incident,” he said, adding that a team of the district administration and Special Branch was in the area where the incident had occurred and had been looking at all aspects of the drone attack.
The spokesman said that the investigating team would submit its report to the provincial government soon.
It is learnt that a sample has been collected from the corpse for a DNA test which will be conducted in Islamabad as Quetta lacks the facility.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2016