Suicide Bomber Kills Former Afghan President

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 12:50 am (UTC-5)
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Former Afghan president and peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed in a suicide bomb attack at his home in the capital Kabul Tuesday.

Police say a Taliban bomber went to Mr. Rabbani's house for peace talks Tuesday and detonated a bomb hidden in his turban after greeting the former president.

At least four other people were killed in the blast and one of President Hamid Karzai's key advisors, Masoom Stanekzai, was wounded.

NATO officials blamed two suicide bombers for the attack, saying they were feigning a desire to conduct reconciliation talks. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility telling Reuters news agency that they appointed two articulate and well trained fighters to build contacts with Mr. Rabbani.

Mr. Rabbani was an ethnic Tajik and head of the Afghan High Peace Council, a government team aimed at seeking a political settlement with insurgents.

Mr. Karzai condemned the assassination saying the former Afghan president sacrificed his life for the sake of Afghanistan and peace. He spoke ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in New York on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting, but cut short his visit because of the attack.

Mr. Obama said Burhanuddin Rabbani was a man who cared deeply about Afghanistan. The president said he will strengthen U.S. resolve to work with the Afghans for peace.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton extended her condolences to Mr. Rabbani's family and to all the people of Afghanistan. She said Washington will support the Afghan government “as they pursue the ones responsible for this cowardly attack and bring them to justice.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Mr. Rabbani's assassination “in the strongest possible terms.” He said the U.N. remains committed to supporting Afghanistan and its people in attaining peace and stability and to working in close cooperation with them.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said these types of attacks and assassinations are a concern, but that overall, he believes NATO and the Afghan government are moving in the right direction against the insurgency

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen vowed that “those who offer only death and destruction” to the Afghan people will not prevail.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Mr. Rabbani played a vital role in Afghanistan's peace process and that he was “absolutely appalled” by his murder.

Pakistani leaders also expressed “extreme anger and shock” at Mr. Rabbani's killing. In a statement, they accused “enemies of peace in Afghanistan” for his death.