Karzai: Rabbani Killer Used Fake Peace Message for Access

Posted September 22nd, 2011 at 8:00 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the suicide bomber who killed former president Burhannuddin Rabbani used a fake peace message from the Taliban to gain access to the peace broker.

Mr. Rabbani, the head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, was killed Tuesday at his Kabul home when the attacker detonated explosives in his turban. Mr. Rabbani was leading efforts to find a political solution to the 10-year Afghan war.

President Karzai said Thursday that the suicide bomber had presented officials with a CD of a purported Taliban peace offer. The president told reporters in Kabul that he had listened to the audio recording before leaving to attend this week's United Nations General Assembly in New York. Mr. Karzai cut short his U.S. trip after Mr. Rabbani was killed.

The president said one of his advisors, Masoom Stanekzai, gave him the CD. Stanekzai was wounded in Tuesday's attack. Officials say the killer had waited at a guest house in the Afghan capital for four days to see former President Rabbani.

At a separate news conference, a spokesman for the Afghan intelligence agency said officials believe Taliban's leadership body — the Quetta Shura — was behind the assassination.

There is conflicting information regarding the claim of responsibility.

A Taliban spokesman told Reuters news agency that the group carried out the attack, but another Taliban spokesman rejected that claim and said the insurgent group would not comment about Mr. Rabbani's assassination.

In other news, NATO says a joint Afghan and coalition security force killed a Taliban commander who was the target of an earlier operation in which 30 American troops were killed in a helicopter crash.

The alliance says Qari Tahir was killed in an air strike Tuesday in Afghanistan's central Wardak province.

NATO says Tahir was the Taliban's top leader in Tangi Valley and the target of the August 5 operation, during which the CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down.

The crash also killed seven Afghan troops and an Afghan interpreter.

The insurgents responsible for shooting down the helicopter were killed days later in an airstrike.

NATO says Tahir was responsible for coordinating attacks against Afghan fighters as well as kidnappings for ransom and hijacking of convoy vehicles. The statement says he was also known to use roadside bombs and rockets to intimidate the local population.