Dadullah was the Taliban’s chief military planner and the most senior leader killed since the Taliban regime was overthrown in 2001.
A NATO International Security Assistance Force spokesman, Maj. John Thomas, told the Agence France-Presse that the loss of Dadullah is a serious blow to the Taliban because of his history and experience in leading an insurgency.
“It is going to take some time to find someone to replace him,” Thomas said.
A series of Taliban suicide attacks and beheadings of captives are attributed to Dadullah’s planning, but in the wake of his death Taliban leaders are vowing to continue to fight.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, who claims to speak for the Taliban, read a statement attributed to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar promising to fight “occupying countries.”
“Mullah Dadullah was the commander of all the fighting groups. Now all of the mujahedeen will carry on his same type of jihad. They will carry out attacks just as Mullah Dadullah did in his life,” Ahmadi said, quoting Omar.
Despite the death of Dadullah, NATO troops were the target of violence in southern Afghanistan Monday, as militants opened fire on U.S., Afghan and Pakistani soldiers near the Afghan border. One American and one Pakistani were killed, according to a Pakistani army spokesman, but NATO has only confirmed one casualty and has not released details.
The forces were leaving a meeting about recent violence between Afghan and Pakistani forces that has further strained relations between the two countries.
Afghan leaders accused Pakistani forces of invading Afghan areas on Sunday and claimed 13 Afghans were killed in the fighting. Afghanistan also has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for not doing enough against the Taliban living in Pakistan.
The border region is known as a particularly active area for militants who support the Taliban and al-Qaida.