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Pakistan Hands Over Body of Slain Afghan Taliban Chief to Relatives

FILE - An Afghan man reads a local newspaper carrying a headline about the appointment of Mullah Akhtar Mansoor as the new leader of the Afghan Taliban, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 1, 2015. Mansoor was killed in a U.S. drone strike May 21.

Pakistan said the body of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike more than a week ago, has been “handed over to his relatives” for burial.

Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan told reporters in Islamabad Tuesday the action came after DNA tests confirmed the man killed in the May 21 attack was Mansoor.

Khan said the body was released to Mansoor's relatives “after fulfilling legal requirements” and they have taken it back to Afghanistan.

On Sunday, Pakistani officials revealed that Mansoor’s DNA matched the samples taken from a close family member who had crossed the Afghan border to receive the body.

The Taliban chief was returning from Iran and traveling through the Pakistani province of Baluchistan when a drone targeted the vehicle in which he was traveling. The Pakistani driver was also killed.

Minister Khan said authorities have also arrested all the officials who allegedly facilitated Mansoor in acquiring a Pakistani national identity card and travel documents, enabling him to undertake journeys within and outside Pakistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama defended the drone strike, saying Mansoor was plotting deadly attacks on U.S soldiers and their Afghan partners and was blocking efforts aimed at seeking a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan.

The Taliban has since appointed Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada as its new chief.