An unidentified attacker on Tuesday killed the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a former president of the country whose main responsibility was negotiating a political end to the war with the Taliban. The attack was a serious blow to any notion of reconciliation with the Taliban.
Afghan officials said the peace council leader, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, was likely killed by a suicide bomber in or near his heavily guarded home in the Afghan capital, Kabul. The assassination coincided with President Hamid Karzai’s visit to the United Nations General Assembly, where he was scheduled to confer with President Obama about the war.
According to Reuters reports, the attack came only a week after a 20-hour siege at the edge of the area sometimes known as the "green zone".
"Rabbani has been martyred," Mohammed Zahir, head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Kabul Police, told Reuters. But he had little else to say.
Hashmatullah Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul's police chief, was also vague, saying the attack on Rabbani's home was "probably" a suicide attack.
He was formerly leader of a powerful mujahideen party during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and served as president in the 1990s when mujahideen factions battled for control of the country after the Soviet withdrawal.
The assassination comes a week after a 20-hour gun and grenade attack that on Kabul's diplomatic enclave by insurgents, and three suicide bomb attacks on other parts of the city -- together the longest-lasting and most wide-ranging assault on the city.
According to reports from Reuters and Al Arabiya, last week's siege was the third major attack on the Afghan capital since June and included three suicide bombing in other parts of the city. The casualties include five policemen and 11 civilians.
All three of those attacks are believed to be the work of the Haqqani network, a Taliban-allied insurgent faction, based along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.