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Karzai: Rabbani a 'Peace Martyr'

Afghan president Hamid Karzai called slain peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani a 'Martyr for Peace'; assassin carried bomb in turban.
By Gabe Kahn.
First Publish: 9/22/2011, 5:45 PM

Burhanuddin Rabbani
Burhanuddin Rabbani
Pajhwok Afghan News

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Thursday the terrorist who assassinated top peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani came disguised as a Taliban emmissary.

Rabbani, a prominent mujahadeed leader in the 1980's and president of Afghanistan in the 1990's, was killed by a suicide bomber in his heavily guarded home earlier this week.

Karzai, returning from the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, praised, praised Rabbani as a "martyr for peace" saying the bomber shamed the cause of peace and honor of Afghans.

Mohammad Esmail Qasemyar, the international relations adviser for the peace council Rabbani headed, said the bomber, identified as Esmatullah, approached several council officials, telling them that he was an important figure in the Taliban insurgency and would only speak directly with Rabbani.

"He wanted to talk about peace with Professor Rabbani," Qasemyar told the Associated Press.

Qasemyar said the bomber stayed at a house used for guests of the peace council while waiting for Rabbani to return from a trip to Iran.

Afghan officials in Kabul said the bomber had concealed explosives in his turban, saying such a tactics an affront to Afghan and Muslim honor, according to Reuters.

A spokesperson for the US-led coalition told AFP another attacker had been involved, but that could not be confirmed by Afghan officials.

The assassination has crushed hopes for reconciling with the Taliban and raised fears about deteriorating security in Afghanistan just as foreign combat troops are starting to pull out.

Some US and Canadian troops have left in recent months and all foreign combat forces are to go home or move into support roles by the end of 2014 when Afghan forces are to be in charge of protecting and defending the nation.

High Peace Council Secretary Masoom Stanikzai had approached him to say the agent had brought a CD that contained a message from Maulvi Enayatullah Makhdoom, a Taliban representative, Karzai told reporters.

The CD contained words of reverence for the assassinated president and suggestions and questions about the peace process, he said.

However, Jamiat-i-Islami officials told Al Jazeera the bomber had met the late president in the past in Kabul, as part of a high-profile delegation of the Quetta Shura.

"We came to know these titles, words of respect and peace messages were all deception," the president said.