4 minute readFormer Afghan president Rabbani killed in blast

Former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani in New Delhi last July.

Indo-Asian News Service flashed the news of the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani at 7:55 pm, here in Delhi, picking up from Chinese news agency, Xinhua.

Kabul/New Delhi: Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani was killed Tuesday evening in a suicide blast at his house in Kabul, media reports said.

He was meeting a group of Taliban insurgents when the explosion was triggered, Xinhua reported, quoting an unnamed source from Rabbani’s office.

“The suicide bomb went off at 18.10 outside the house. There are casualties, but details will be released later,” said Hashmat Stanikzai, the provincial police spokesperson.

Four others. including Massum Stanikzai, head of the joint secretariat of the High Peace Council, were also killed, Xinhua reported.

He was meeting two members of the Taliban at his home at the time of the blast, officials said.

The Taliban insurgents had come to the capital to meet the officials of the Afghan High Peace Council that is headed by Rabbani.

It was not immediately clear if the visitors were involved in the attack, which also left five others dead and several injured, the local Tolo TV channel said.

A witness told Xinhua that it was a suicide bombing.

Security was beefed up after the attack.

Rabbani was selected by President Hamid Karzai in October, 2010 as chairman of the 70-member High Peace Council to broker peace with the Taliban.

The Taliban rejected the council and called for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Many members of the council are former warlords who spent years fighting the Taliban and their inclusion led to doubts as to whether it could succeed in its mission, said the BBC.

Rabbani recently addressed a religious conference in Iran, where he called on Muslim scholars to speak out against suicide attacks.

India has reacted with shock to the killing of and strongly condemned the terror act. “I am shocked to receive news of the assassination of chairman of the High Peace Council and former president of Afghanistan, Professor Burhanudin Rabbani, earlier today,” External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, who is in New York for the United National General Assembly session, said in a statement.

“I fondly recall my meetings with him in Kabul and again in New Delhi last July, when he had shared his vision of a harmonious and prosperous Afghanistan. Tragically, the forces of terror and hatred have silenced yet another powerful voice of reason and peace in Afghanistan. We unreservedly condemn this act of great brutality,” Krishna said.

Offering his deepest condolences to and solidarity with Rabbani’s members and the Afghan people, Krishna also reiterated the steadfast support of the people and government of India in Afghanistan’s quest for peace and efforts to strengthen the roots of democracy.

Obituary

An ethnic Tajik, Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was assassinated Tuesday, was a former Mujahideen leader and played a key role to end the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

Born in 1940 in northern Afghanistan, Rabbani was president of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996, when the Taliban ousted him.

He then became the nominal head of the Northern Alliance, comprising mostly the minority Tajiks and Uzbeks who took power after the Taliban’s ouster by the US in 2001.

All through its existence, the Northern Alliance’s three main backers were Russia, Iran and India.

The head of the Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan party, Rabbani was lately the leader of the largest political opposition to President Hamid Karzai’s government.

He was also chairman of Afghan High Peace Council set up by the government to broker peace with the Taliban.

Rabbani graduated in Islamic Law and Theology from Kabul University, where he was hired as a professor in 1963. He did his Masters in Islamic Philosophy from Egypt.

President Barack Obama met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in New York on Tuesday and said of Rabbani, “He was a man who cared deeply about Afghanistan and had been a valued adviser to President Karzai, and was a enormous contribution to rebuilding the country. So it is a tragic loss. We want to extend our heartfelt condolences to you and to his family, and the people of Afghanistan,” adding, “(W)e will not be deterred from creating a path whereby Afghans can live in freedom and safety and security and prosperity, and that it is going to be important to continue the efforts to bring all elements of Afghan society together to end what has been a senseless cycle of violence.”

Karzai called Rabbani’s work ‘vital’, and said, “He was one of the few people in Afghanistan with the distinction that we cannot easily find in societies. A terrible loss.”

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) issued a statement saying it ‘condemns in the strongest possible terms this attack on people who were working to bring peace in Afghanistan and extends its deepest condolences to the families of those affected’ and noted that ‘a number of people were injured, include Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, the head of the joint secretariat of Afghanistan’s Peace and Reintegration Program, according to a news release issued by UNAMA.

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