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Afghan president condemns Rabbani killing

(Xinhua)

09:50, September 21, 2011

KABUL, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- As the reported assassination of Afghan Peace Council Chief and the ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani has been aired by media, President Hamid Karzai who arrived in New York on Monday to attend the United Nations General Assembly canceled his visit and returning home, a spokesman of Afghan Presidential Palace Hamid Elmi said on Tuesday.

"The tragic incident happened at 05:30 p.m. local time (1300 GMT) Tuesday and President Hamid Karzai with hearing the sad news canceled his visit to New York and has left for home," Elmi told newsmen in a brief chat.

In Tuesday evening's attack, according to source close to Rabbani, the attacker disguised himself as a Taliban messenger and wanted to meet the chairman of High Peace Council, and the Rabbani 's man namely Wahidyar took him (the attacker) inside Rabbani's house and Rabbani begun meeting in a room but the man blew himself up, killing Rabbani and himself on the spot.

Two more persons were injured in the blast, the source further said.

Officials have yet to make comment on the possible number of more casualties, but local TV channel Tolo quoted an Interior Ministry source as reporting that at least five more people were also killed and several others injured in the suicide attack.

Karzai said in his first reaction to the assassination that Afghans would not be deflected from their "path" towards peace.

Rabbani was an "Afghan patriot who sacrificed his life," Karzai said during talks with U.S. President Barack Obama in New York.

"This will not deter us from continuing down the path we have started," said Karzai.

Obama called Rabbani's death a "tragic loss" as he met Karzai during his trip to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

"We both believe that despite this incident that we will not be deterred from creating a path whereby Afghans can live in freedom, safety, security and prosperity," Obama said.

Meantime, President Karzai's main challenger in last Presidential election, Abdullah Abdullah, in his message has described the assassination as a great loss to the nation and strongly condemned it.

Rabbani, who had led Jamiat-Islami, a moderate Islamic party until his death, had fought against the former Soviet Union occupation of Afghanistan from 1979-89 and resisted the onslaught of Taliban militants from 1996 until their collapse in late 2001.

Governor of Afghanistan's Balkh province and loyalist to Jamiat- Islami party, Ata Mohammad Noor, also in his message condemned the murder of Rabbani and lashed at peace talks with Taliban, saying peace efforts with Taliban insurgents would end in fiasco.

In addition to Afghan figures, NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and NATO-led forces' commander in Afghanistan General John R. Allen, according to local media reports, have also condemned the assassination.

Rabbani, an aged erstwhile Mujahdeen leader and the former president of Afghanistan, selected by President Karzai as chairman of the High Peace Council in October 2010, was killed in a suicide attack at his home in Wazir Akbar Khan area, a diplomatic enclave in the fortified capital city Kabul.

The 70-member High Peace Council was set up in October 2010 by President Karzai to broker peace with the Taliban and associated insurgents fighting Afghan government and NATO-led forces stationed in Afghanistan.

However, the insurgent group repeatedly rejected the High Peace Council and called for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Taliban launched in May a spring offensive against Afghan and NATO forces.

The outfit has also warned the civilians to stay away from official gatherings, military convoys and centers regarded as the legitimate targets by militants.

Taliban also warned to target high-ranking Afghan officials including members of the peace council.

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