Afghan peace council head killed: police

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 20, 2011 10:56 AM
Afghan peace council head killed: police

KABUL (Reuters) - The head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who had been tasked with trying to negotiate a political end to the war, was killed early on Tuesday evening, a senior police officer said.

His home is in Kabul's heavily guarded diplomatic enclave, and the attack came just 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. He had no further details.

Hashmatullah Stanikzai, spokesman for Kabul's police chief, said it was "probably" a suicide attack.

Rabbani 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 waged war 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.

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. At least five policemen and 11 civilians were killed.

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.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni, writing by Emma Graham-Harrison, editing by Jonathan Thatcher)