By Aamir Latif, Sinan Polat, Mohammad Fahim Abed and Sayed Khodaberdi Sadat
KABUL/KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistani police have lodged a criminal case against unnamed U.S. officials for their involvement in the drone strike that killed Taliban leader Mullah Mansoor and his driver, officials said on Sunday.
The announcement, which observers say is symbolic, comes about a week after the U.S. said it had killed Mullah Mansoor in a drone strike near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
The operation came at a time when the Taliban had been carrying out brutal attacks not seen in the last 15 years.
The Taliban is currently in control of 18 districts across Afghanistan and clashes with Afghan forces are ongoing in another 70 districts.
After the Taliban announced the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar, Mansoor was elected as the new Taliban leader, triggering a bitter internal power struggle.
This power struggle, however, did not prevent Taliban militants from keeping up their violent attacks around the country.
The Taliban was established in the early 1990s, but was not unified until 1994. The group rapidly strengthened itself in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.
As a predominantly Pashtun movement constituting 40 percent of the population, the Taliban promised to restore peace and security in areas under its control.
The group extended its territory in a short period of time and in 1998, most of the country, including capital Kabul, was under Taliban control.
The Taliban attracted a great deal of attention following the September 2001 attacks in the U.S., when it was accused of providing a sanctuary to al-Qaeda.
Soon after, the group had to withdraw to Afghanistan’s mountainous areas following intense attacks by local forces and a U.S.-led coalition.
The U.S. and NATO announced that they had completed their mission in Afghanistan in late 2015 and handed control of the country to Afghan authorities.
Aid for the Afghan army, however, continued. In 2015, NATO donated $5.7 billion, 4.1 of which was invested in security.
After NATO completed its mission in Afghanistan, Taliban resurfaced, especially in predominantly Pashtun areas. It has been able to retrieve power in areas it had lost, seizing control of Kunduz in September 2015.
There are around 60,000 Taliban militants in the country, according to Afghan officials who spoke to Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity due to safety concerns.
Dawlat Waziri, an Afghan defense ministry spokesman, told Anadolu Agency that Taliban’s presence was mostly in the mountainous regions close to Pakistan.
Waziri also said the group had seized only six districts: Ghazni, Kunduz, Farah, Helmand, Badakhshan and Nuristan.
However, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told Anadolu Agency that a total of 37 districts and villages were completely under Taliban control.