KABUL, Afghanistan — An assassin with a bomb hidden in his turban killed former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, the chairman of the government's peace council, on Tuesday in the latest in a slew of high-profile attacks and a major blow to U.S.-backed efforts to draw Taliban-led insurgents into peace talks.
The blast inside Rabbani's home in Kabul's diplomatic enclave also wounded Rahmatullah Wahidyar, a former Taliban minister and peace council member, and Masoom Stanekzai, a top aide to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the director of the peace council's secretariat, Afghan officials said.
The bomber gained entry to Rabbani's heavily guarded residence close to the U.S. Embassy by pretending to be a Taliban commander who wanted to surrender to the former president, officials said.
Karzai cut short a visit to New York for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, returning to Afghanistan after meeting with President Barack Obama.
Rabbani "has sacrificed his life for the sake of Afghanistan and for the peace of our country," Karzai said. "We will miss him very much … a terrible loss."
Obama and Karzai said Rabbani's death won't derail the U.S.-backed strategy of pursuing peace talks with Taliban-led insurgents as the United States and other foreign powers begin withdrawing their combat forces from Afghanistan after a decade of war.
But Marine Gen. John Allen, the commander of the U.S.-led international forces, said in a statement that Rabbani's death "is another outrageous indicator" that the Taliban "do not want peace, but rather war."
Rabbani was president from 1992 to 1996, heading the Afghan government that preceded the Taliban rule. After he was driven from Kabul in 1996, he became the nominal head of the Northern Alliance, mostly minority Tajiks and Uzbeks, who swept to power in Kabul as a U.S.-led invasion toppled the Taliban regime in late 2001. Rabbani headed the Jamiat-e-Islami political party.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.