Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Second Afghan Peace Broker Assassinated

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Second Afghan Peace Broker Assassinated

Article excerpt

Gunmen killed a senior member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council Sunday morning, in yet another signal that some elements within the insurgency are against talks.

In yet another blow to the Afghan peace process, gunmen assassinated a senior member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council on Sunday morning. The attackers reportedly pulled up next to Maulvi Arsala Rahmani while he was stuck in Kabul's rush hour traffic and opened fire killing the peace broker.

The murder of Mr. Rahmani comes less than a year after insurgents managed to kill the then head of the High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, in his own home using a suicide bomber disguised as a Taliban messenger.

Negotiating a settlement with the insurgency has long been seen by the US and NATO as the best way to create an enduring end to the conflict here. The peace process has suffered numerous blows and embarrassments in the more than two years since it was begun in earnest, attaining little in the way of significant results. Sunday's assassination will not stop talks with the insurgency, but it adds yet another question about the viability of negotiations.

"The Taliban want to reconcile, but there are some fundamentalist Taliban members and others who are connected with ISI [the Pakistani intelligence service]. They are the people who attacked Ramhami today," says Heela Achakzai, a member of Afghanistan's upper house of Parliament. "Unfortunately, the Taliban is not a clear and unified group. There are different people following different orders. That's why you cannot reach any settlement very soon."

In March, the Taliban announced that it had suspended talks with the US and the Afghan government in the immediate aftermath of the burning of the Quran on a US base and the shooting spree by US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales in Kandahar.

Though the Taliban has said it is targeting members of the High Peace Council as part of its assassination campaign this summer, the group denied responsibility for Rahmani's killing. …

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